We all remember great stories. It’s what helps us make connections, strengthens our memories and inspires action.
So it is no surprise that brands who use storytelling are the ones that get noticed. Storytelling in marketing is not a new concept. Many studies have proven that the human brain is far more engaged by storytelling than facts alone.
As children, stories carved our understanding of the world, taught us about life and promoted a positive outlook. Although we keenly listen to and absorb stories, when it comes to brand marketing or sales copywriting, it is hard to know how to incorporate this seemingly abstract method into your marketing strategy.
Apple is one of the companies who get it right. With it, they have created a legion of loyal fans who line up for days waiting to get their hands on the latest Apple product.
It’s understandable to be left scratching your head questioning “How on earth did they do that?”
Simon Sinek at his famous TedTalk in 2014 discussed how Apple went on to achieve extraordinary success where many other brands failed. This all started with one important question: “Why?”
“People don’t know what you do; they want to know why you do it.”
The principle of this statement is what inspires people is not just your product and services, it’s your purpose and how your brand is contributing to society as a whole.
This philosophy doesn’t just apply to a billion-dollar business. Here are a number of ways that all businesses can incorporate the “Why” into their storytelling and marketing strategy.
According to Simon Sinek, the main difference between Apple and their competitors is that they start their story with a why.
Sinek explains this using what he calls the “Golden Circle” which is actually a pretty simple concept.
- Why: The core belief and purpose of the business, why it exists (hint: it’s not about making money)
- How: How the business fulfils that belief
- What: What they do to fulfil that belief
Many businesses lead with ‘What’ with some failing to understand why they do what they do.
Apple incorporates the “Why” at the heart of their marketing model and if they lead with “What” then the impact of their message would fall flat, for example:
"We make great computers. They're user-friendly, beautifully designed, and easy to use. Want to buy one?"
These are valid points that clearly explain the benefits of the product.
However, there is nothing to differentiate them from any other company selling the same thing. By failing to inspire and make a connection with your audience’s is failing to inspire them into taking action.
Here's what happens when you put “Why” at the forefront of the message:
“With everything we do, we aim to challenge the status quo. We aim to think differently. Our products are user-friendly, beautifully designed, and easy to use. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?”
By starting out with their core beliefs, Apple attracts customers that share their ethos. They become addicted to their story and yearn to know more about the brand. They don’t just buy a product, it is a lifestyle choice.
Why Do You Do It?
Colin Wright said “Chase your passions and the money will come. Chase the money and you will never find your passion”
Here is how to start exploring your “Why”
1. Dig deep into the origins of your company to find the all-important common ground between you and your customers.
2. Go beyond who your customers are and why they would want to buy your product; think about what motivates them and why your brand will resonate.
3. Ask your team what their passions are and why they work for your company. They are your brand ambassadors and need to understand and invest in your story before it is shared with your customers.
Customers crave transparency and this all starts with portraying an authentic brand story. People respond better to personality and this can be a fun and effective way to be creative with your content.
Airbnb hooks readers with people-focused content. It is all about the people who own homes and the travellers who want to visit them.
It is a very successful marketing strategy that humanises the brand by placing emphasis on how making connections is important.
Airbnb moved away from sales-driven content by launching a one-off print magazine, Pineapple. The magazine saw the celebration and sharing of stories about people who “live and create connections in cities today”.
This experiment worked perfectly with their ethos and gave readers a sense of how they care about the communities they work with and the impact Airbnb has had on them. The message is incredibly genuine and reads more like a coffee table magazine rather than a sales pitch.
Eliminate the Negative
When it comes to messages of warmth and positivity the Dove ‘Real Beauty’ campaign triumphs over the negative advertising associated with beauty brands.
The idea was to give women a much-needed self-esteem boost and celebrate their inner beauty instead of directly relating to the product. The movement saw millions of women embrace the message and 12 years on, the Real Beauty campaign continues on its mission to redefine what beauty is.
The positivity associated with the brand encourages consumers to support Dove’s message and buy their products.
Long-Term Brand Loyalty
Brands that weave storytelling into their marketing strategy engage better with people’s emotions. By answering the “Why”, you can paint a picture of how your business plays an important part in your customers’ lives and establish long-term brand loyalty.