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By  Brad Vassallo,

In today’s world, it is easier than ever to start a business. Explore Instagram on any given day and you will inevitably see an ad for some new online retailer. It begs the question: How, in such a saturated online marketplace, can a fledgling brand separate itself from the pack and survive?

There is no one answer to such a complex question, but for many consumer brands, the key is brand storytelling.

In short, brand storytelling is a marketing strategy that references a product’s functional benefits and establishes a context for when, where, and by whom that product is to be used. Oftentimes the goal is for a consumer to see her/himself in that scenario; for example, a casual menswear brand might produce a shoot involving a group of men on a weekend trip to the outdoors.

In other cases, the audience or customer profile is more aspirational in nature; an example of this might be a company that makes luxury handbags producing a shoot with beautiful talent up and down the Amalfi Coast. The average consumer will not be traipsing about the Mediterranean coast all that often, but with the right handbag, they feel like someone who would. Here emerges the two primary ingredients behind the secret sauce that is brand storytelling: Functional benefits and emotional connection.

Functional Benefits

Integral to any sensible advertising is a display of the product’s functional benefits. If you are a photographer shooting a campaign for a pair of boardshorts, it’s fairly obvious in what context that shoot will take place. You wouldn’t showcase a pair of sunglasses lying in bed, and you certainly wouldn’t photograph a pair of boardshorts at the opera. There is a natural association between a product’s benefits — in this case, probably lightweight and fast-drying material — and the expected scenario in which you would find that product. Once you identify a few key benefits, then you can begin to segment your market by other metrics like price: Yes these shoes are comfortable, but are they lounge-in-a-hammock comfortable or sip-martinis-on-a-yacht comfortable? Think of it like a mind map; identify your core benefits then branch out from there.

The primary benefit of Kuju Coffee is convenience, but here’s the thing: K-Cups are convenient and easy to use too, just not while hiking. So when I decided to produce a spec shoot for Kuju, I had to go beyond the logical appeal of convenience and portability and tap into something deeper.

Emotional Connection

Think back to my examples in the opening paragraphs. In either scenario, the advertiser’s goal is to strike an emotional chord with their audience. One plays on a sense of belonging and friendship, while the other taps into a bit of envy and longing for a future perfect self. The narrative being told tells us who is expected to buy certain products and for what context.

With Kuju, the emotional association I wanted to make was a sense of adventure and wanderlust. Shooting in a location like the mountains of West Virginia is generic enough to have a universal appeal while still evoking this feeling of envy and a yearning to go somewhere beautiful. If your coffee can go wherever you go, then why not go anywhere? Suddenly your mind is flooded with possibilities far beyond the coffee itself.

By driving home this connection between product benefits and emotion, you effectively marry the two in a consumer’s mind:

“Man, I need to get out and see the world and with this coffee I don’t even have to give it a second thought.”

Or:

“You know, I’m going hiking with some friends next weekend, this coffee would be perfect!”

Whatever direction the consumer’s mind takes them, at the end of the day they want to buy your coffee.

Good Versus Great

Brand storytelling is the key to levelling up your company’s marketing strategy and zeroing in on your target market. In fact, you could argue that for many companies these days, it is the only thing separating one brand from the next. Good content is well lit, properly exposed, and captures the mind; truly great content goes a step further and captures the head and the heart, showing you not only what’s being sold, but why you need it in your life.

By Brad Vassallo

About the author: Brad Vassallo is a commercial and outdoor lifestyle photographer based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A creator since his earliest days, he once had the dream of being a National Geographic photographer. In spite of those aspirations, he spent the better part of his life chasing other people’s dreams of what he was supposed to do and who he was supposed to be. At a certain point though, the voice inside got to be too loud, too persistent, and told him that the path he was on was not his own. He began to listen to that voice, affirming his own creative aspirations and returning to his creative roots. You can see more of his work on his website and Instagram.

Sourced from PetaPixel

By Lane Ellis,

Are you using the latest social media marketing tools that help you create a new variety of remarkable campaign experiences?

We’ve got you covered with a look at our 10 latest featured social media marketing tools to help you refine and expand your marketing efforts and boost brand storytelling.

Sifting through tens of thousands of available tools can be a hit and miss proposition, but these 10 fresh marketing tools let you skip a lot of the research queue and get right into useful tools for helping you tell marketing stories in new ways.

Let’s dive right in with our collection of 10 fresh tools to boost your social media marketing experiences, including image and video manipulation tools, headline analysis utilities, and social media monitoring apps.

1 — DxO’s Nik Collection 3 Tools

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DxO’s updated Nik Collection 3 offers an array of photo editing features for its popular suite of economical plug-ins for Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, and DxO’s own Photo Lab.

Coming three years after acquiring the technology from Google, this latest major release offers a new horizon-correcting perspective plug-in — Perspective Efex — and brings Adobe Lightroom Classic users non-destructive editing using a special variety of TIFF files.

Marketers looking to test the new features can try DxO’s new collection using a fully-functional 30-day trial.

2 — CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer Tool

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Marketers looking for a fresh take on potential new headlines for articles, case studies, eBooks, or other forms of B2B marketing content can try CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer tool.

This tool offers numerous recommendations, visual previews, and ratings for potential headline choices, including sentiment and length analysis, keyword insight, and a word balance feature showing a particular headline’s emotional power and whether it is particularly common or on the rare side.

3 — Prisma Lab’s Photo Editor

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Marketing designers looking to push the boundaries of imagery that stands out for B2B brands can check out Prisma Lab’s Photo Editor app for Apple iOS and Android users, an award-winning photo-editing tool.

Noted for its user-friendly functionality and daily art filters, Prisma’s Photo Editor offers marketers a quick way to try various what-if image manipulations — from merely unusual to otherworldly alterations that might just be the look a B2B brand is looking for.

4 — digiKam RAW Format Processor & Manager

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A rare open source tool offering marketers and designers full functionality in RAW camera format processing and photo management, digiKam’s open nature may appeal to organizations not wanting to get locked in to any one software ecosystem, while still being able to use a slew of powerful features.

Available for Windows, macOS and Linux, digiKam has a slick and easy-to-use user interface, and import and export utilities for smooth social media formatting and sharing.

5 — Biteable Video Tool

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Biteable is an online video maker tied in to a large library of built-in footage and including many helpful templates that combine with the service’s editor functions to create quick and easy marketing assets.

Biteable also allows marketers to create video infographics, explainer videos, animated logos, and dozens of other formats driven by the template-based system, and offers a free trial.

6 — The PhotoGIMP Alternative by Diolinux

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Diolinux’s PhotoGIMP brings a new look and feel to the popular free open-source image editing tool GIMP — short for GNU Image Manipulation Program — coming up on its 25th anniversary in 2021.

This add-on is intended to make the transition to GIMP easier, purposely bringing a look much more like Adobe’s Photoshop, which might be just what some marketers need when trying alternatives to industry-standard software. The tool’s GitHub repository page in English is here — the tool’s main site is in Portuguese.

7 — Unreal’s Live Link Face 3D Live-Motion Tool

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Epic Games’ Unreal Engine has released Live Link Face for Unreal Engine,  a live motion-capture app that uses an iPhone’s Face ID sensors to create 3D facial animation — cutting-edge technology useful for adding catchy motion to many campaign types, and a glimpse at what is likely coming down the pike for marketers.

The tool uses an iPhone’s TrueDepth sensor array to bring a technology once only available to major motion picture or game designers such as Adam Dunn.

8 — Weave New Digital Stories with Bazaart

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The fascinating iOS-only app-based tool offered by Bazaart allows marketers to weave together and manipulate photos, text and other elements, and through the use of layers, cut-outs, background-removal and other technology, to create unusual collages and other forms of digital work.

Bazaart also uses numerous templates and example pages to show what the tool is capable of, and has been especially popular for the creation of Instagram Story imagery.

9 — VSCO’s Montage Multimedia Video Editing Tool

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Multimedia video editing software VSCO has been busy adding creative features to its popular mobile app, especially since it released its Montage tool earlier this year.

VSCO’s Montage emphasizes video storytelling, an increasingly important aspect of successful digital marketing, using multi-layered video, images, sound, and other elements to pull viewers into collage-like video content. The tool is available to try for free.

10 — Mentionlytics

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Software as a service (SaaS) platform Mentionlytics monitors global social media references and mentions and presents results in a robust dashboard including sentiment analysis, social engagement and reach, competitor comparisons, web mentions and more.

Competition in this segment of social media monitoring tools is fierce, with established players such as Traackr and others, however.

Craft Experiences With Happy Little Apps & Marketing Tools

via GIPHY

We hope that you’ll find several new-to-you social media marketing tools among those we’ve explored here, and that you’ll continue to keep your campaigns full of engaging and fresh stories, whatever software you may be using at any one time.

This is the latest in our multi-year history of highlighting helpful marketing tools, and here are some of the other most recent articles we’ve published on the subject:

By Lane Ellis

Lane R. Ellis (@lanerellis), TopRank Marketing Social Media and Content Marketing Manager, has over 36 years’ experience working with and writing about the Internet. Lane spent more than a decade as Lead Editor for prestigious conference firm Pubcon. When he’s not writing, Lane enjoys distance running (11 marathons including two ultras so far), genealogical research, cross-country skate skiing, vegetarian cooking, and spending time with his wonderful wife Julie Ahasay and their three cats in beautiful Duluth, Minnesota.

Sourced from TopRank Marketing

By Ryan Reynolds.

Engaging in brand storytelling isn’t just an important modern marketing strategy, it’s vital, writes Uber Eats’ Ryan Reynolds. As audiences evolve and expand across global landscapes, the benefits of capturing their attention through stories and emotion shouldn’t be underestimated.

Stories that work to provoke emotions are a universal language that can be used across platforms, hitting consumers from all walks of life, ages and backgrounds. With audiences inundated with media through every possible platform, using storytelling as a way to stand out is the best way to cut through the noise and target the heart of your demographic.

The core of social media remains as a way to engage in social connection. People don’t log into their Instagram or Facebook accounts to see billboard-like advertising. They use these apps as a way to remain in-touch and social in a digital era. In order to engage large audiences in such a social way, brands need to create stories, adapting to this social style of marketing.

An engaging and emotional connection is often what draws in and captivates an audience. People are inherently more interested in reading or following a story, as opposed to simply reading statistics and facts. This is the case particularly in today’s age, where consumers are actively avoiding advertising as much as they can. When was the last time banner advertising caught your attention?

We’re in an age where programs such as Adblock are constantly in use to hide or minimise the number of traditional advertising audiences are exposed to. Audiences may be more self-aware when it comes to ignoring traditional advertising, but they’re as engaged as ever with social media, making emotive storytelling the ideal platform to target the modern consumer. Transactional advertising is quickly becoming a thing of the past, and to survive, brands need to adapt.

If you think back on your own experience with advertising, you’ll agree that campaigns using stories or case studies stick out clearer in your mind. An example of memorable advertising is Toms and its use of a unique company story which entices people to join a cause. The story of Toms could ultimately see it chosen over a competitor, because of this emotive and engaging content that inspires change – showing consumers the benefits of their purchases and urging them to become involved.

If you’re unaware of the story behind this revolutionary footwear brand, Toms introduced a groundbreaking ‘one for one’ concept model – with every purchase of Toms shoes, the company donates a pair to a child in need around the world. This model and level of engagement gives its consumers the power of purchasing with purpose. This feeds into the social element, with Toms’ customers having a simple purchase of shoes reminding them that they’re a part of something much bigger. Toms marketing goes further than just selling shoes – its selling a movement, and people love to be involved.

Brand storytelling is a way to build a genuine and loyal connection with consumers. In my current role as global social and content marketing lead for Uber Eats, I’ve seen that marketing nowadays goes beyond the classic kind, where a company used to share a story about a product with the hopes to engage interest by simply presenting something to buy. Instead, it has now shifted to sharing stories of the people behind the product.

An example of this strategy is a campaign Uber Eats did where we shared stories about the restaurants on our platform, or the drivers who delivered the food. The focus of this campaign was to share emotive stories that don’t get the limelight that they deserve. Once consumers hear of these stories and case studies, they begin to understand the impact that has been made by supporting a brand, giving them a sense of importance by being involved, while understanding the larger picture of their involvement at the same time.

In this day and age, people are constantly bombarded with content. If you want to cut through the noise, it is becoming increasingly important for brands to forget the obvious elements and go deeper. During my time in Australia, I saw a great example of a big brand creating an accessible and engaging story, which was Nike.

The little initiatives it implements on the ground gives consumers a chance to be a part of Nike’s story – this is particularly evident in its Nike Run Club. Using ambassadors in every major – and even smaller – cities around the country creates a club mentality, allowing its audience to forget about the big corporate America Nike. The Nike they know and love becomes something much smaller, and something that they are involved with at a ground level. This kind of proactive and targeted brand storytelling emphasises a personal connection between consumer and brand. In this example, we see that the more invested these runners feel in Nike, the more inherently loyal they become.

It has been proven that messages delivered as stories are 22 times more memorable than any other type of marketing. Having a message that will stay on your consumer’s mind is naturally going to improve the efficiency of communication channels to your audience. One major way brands fail when implementing a storytelling strategy is not keeping it authentic. Audiences are smart enough to see through content created purely for content’s sake – so keeping authenticity in everything you do as the number one rule when creating a close relationship with your consumers.

By Ryan Reynolds

Ryan Reynolds is global social and content marketing lead for Uber Eats

Sourced from Marketing

By Demitra Fields.

Just like the everyday social media user, a successful brand should have its own story and personality.

Brand storytelling, when done properly, allows marketers to build personality and associate emotion with a brand to create (or, at least, attempt to create) a personal connection with the consumer. The prevalence of social media today has driven an interest in leveraging the convergence of content creation and programmatic advertising to tell the story behind a brand.

As co-founder and president of Track Marketing Group, I’ve helped different brands socialize their story using strong visual narratives and integration of live experiences to build engaged communities. Here are five tips to creating your social brand narrative, and hopefully, inspiring your community.

Use Powerful Imagery 

It’s often said that good public speakers take their audience on a journey, hopefully leaving it feeling motivated and inspired. Leveraging the power of photography to take the consumer through a visual journey is one of the most powerful ways to tell your brand story across all social platforms.

  • Use original images. Storytelling is most effective when it’s personalized. Stock images will never do your brand story justice. Make the investment and create original visuals that tell the exact story in your brand voice.
  • Use social platform-specific visual tactics. With the number of social platforms consumers are using today, it’s safe to say that one size does NOT fit all. Instagram profile grids, the act of taking one single image and sharing it as a grid of several broken images to create a big picture when viewed on the main user profile, might work well on Instagram but lose their effectiveness on Twitter and Snapchat. Know your community and apply the best visuals that work within the confines of the different social platforms.

Limit The Use of Hashtags

Being on the agency side, clients are always looking to sum up their entire brand ethos using one hashtag. Unicorn hashtags — simple premises that the consumer can immediately understand and connect to the brand — are far and in-between.

Use hashtags as a way to corral and enhance your brand story along with the extended consumer chapters and plot twists. The hashtag should not be your brand story

Empower Your Community

One of the most popular story structures is called the “monomyth,” also known as “the hero’s journey.” In monomyths, heroes are called to leave their home and set out on a journey to an unknown place. After overcoming a trial, they return home with newfound wisdom or a reward that they can share with and ultimately help their community.

Social media and the power of user-generated content allow marketers the unique opportunity to allow the consumer to finish the monomyth. The brand’s journey into the unknown can be open ended and completed by the consumer in his or her own words and visuals.

Tactically, we can do this two ways:

  • Crowdsourced Content. Leveraging crowdsourced images to show the pillars of the brand story through the consumer’s lens and, in turn, bring the brand story into the real world.
  • Social Listening. Utilize social tools to identify and listen to your brand advocates and engage with them on a one-on-one basis to amplify the story beyond your reach.

Expand Your Message

The greatest stories are those that are broad and relatable to a wide group of people. The best TV shows in history all transcended their specific subject and captured a moment in time in our culture. “Star Wars” is a box office juggernaut because it tells a story that the consumer easily understands.

The best stories are relatable by the average person. Telling your brand story on social means that you have to be unique yet still attainable by the average social media user. If your entire story is only for the one percent on social, that’s not a story – that’s only a chapter.

Let The Words Tell A Story

Storytelling on social media is ultimately driven by words. Whether we are looking to inspire, motivate or galvanize the consumer and community, the copy that we use either as standalone text or as captions to our visuals will dictate the brand story arc(s).

New Balance, one of our agency clients, recently launched its “Always In Beta” campaign telling their brand story of being in a state of relentless improvement — that there is no finish line to what’s possible and that you can always improve with determination.

New Balance has taken its ‘Always in Beta’ brand story to social by creating original content that visually speaks to its performance heritage, yet with words that are broader than footwear and apparel. This has allowed it to become more than just a footwear brand but to enter its consumer’s personal storyline.

Great brands rely on stories to define their brands. With society driven by social media and an “always on” mentality, today’s brand journey must begin, build and extend onto social. Approach your storytelling with an authentic yet broader lens than your brand-specific filter, and you’ll give your consumer the social authority to make your brand story into their personal folktale.

Read more advice on building your brand at Tech.Co

This article is courtesy of BusinessCollective, featuring thought leadership content by ambitious young entrepreneurs, executives & small business owners.

By Demitra Fields

Sourced from TECH.CO