“Narrative” and “Story”, as interlinked as these two words might seem, when it comes to marketing, their definitions take on subtle differences.
While a story is finite it’s normally focused on a central character with which the reader or listener identifies. A narrative, on the other hand, is infinite. It’s open-ended and has no resolution. It’s always in the process of unfolding and often includes an invitation to participate within its unfolding.
Let’s dig in to know more about the difference between the two and their impact on marketing!
What is Brand Story?
The art of storytelling is marked as the oldest cultural activity in history. It dates back to even before the ancient art of writing. People have been sharing stories with one another for various reasons including entertainment and education reasons since the beginning of times.
But, what makes stories so appealing to the human mind? According to a research published by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, stories have the power to, trigger our emotions, transport us to a different place mentally, influence our existing beliefs and help us embrace ideas we would otherwise cast aside. The art of storytelling is a powerful thing, indeed.
It’s not just writers who utilise of the art of storytelling. Some of the most successful brands across the world approach their audience through well-thought-out stories as well. This process of construing the story of a brand or a product from narrative to imagery is termed as Brand Positioning. If you wish to position your brand efficiently, you need to create a brand story that occupies a distinctive niche in the minds of your consumers as well as engages with them on an emotional level.
In other words, you need to be able to differentiate your brand from your competitors so that customers can instantly recognize it.
Brand Storytelling is a method of presenting your brand in a storytelling format. It tells the tale about you, your business, it’s history, how you overcame adversity, and about the product/service you provide. It is a business-centric model that addresses three simple questions:
- Why do you do what you do?
- How are you different?
- Why do you matter?
While conjuring up a baseline for your brand story, the most important question you need to address is: The world is in trouble and I am (the hero) here to save the day with my business’ unique value proposition.
Let’s take an example:
Travelocity Roaming Gnome
Travelocity is an online travel agency who chose a rather unique way to showcase their brand story through social media. By creating profiles for their mascot “The Roaming Gnome” on social media sites such as Twitter, Instagram, and Tinder they covered stories which were told by the Roaming Gnome himself.
Well-crafted stories don’t just engage first-time visitors but can also convert them into loyal and long-term customers. Thanks to the advancing technology, marketeers today can spread stories through a plethora of channels.
What is Narrative Marketing?
Narrative Marketing is all about empathizing with your audience by telling your customers a story. It is a customer-centric model. It is focused on their life, their problems, overcoming their adversities, and the core feelings associated throughout it all. The customer is the hero of the narrative, not the brand. It engages your audience so they become active listeners, and as a result, brings clarity to what you have to offer them. For example, in the above LEGO advertisement, the feeling of accomplishment children get from building LEGO sets is something nobody should miss. The focus here is all on this boy’s creativity and accomplishment — which just so happens to involve LEGOs.
It targets customers who value creativity, who want their children to excel in education so they understand the world around them. By making your customer the hero of the story, you radically shift your marketing from being self-focused into a new reality.
Which method is more effective?
While consumers are constantly looking at how to continue down their story wherever they go, business providers are more obsessed with a business solution, not their customers, or their problem.
And that’s the real problem.
So how do we tackle this?
You start by thinking from a consumer’s POV.
How do you do that? By asking yourself the following questions:
What does my customer really want?
What are the problems that he’s facing?
What does it feel like right now without my product/service?
What is life like after using my product/service?
How are they enabled to do something they weren’t able to do before?
Businesses that place their customers at the centre of their marketing strategy are better positioned for success. By making your customer the hero of the story, you radically shift from being self-focused into a new realm and ultimately your business gets clearer and appealing to your customers and in turn, resonates with them better.