4 Inspiring Examples of Brand Storytelling in the Digital Age

April 9, 2018 - 11 minutes read

An insight into the power of brand storytelling in today’s world

 

“Tell me the facts, and I’ll learn. Tell me the truth, and I’ll believe. But tell me a story, and it will live in my heart forever.” –  A Native American Proverb

 

There’s nothing more powerful or timeless than a compelling story told in an intriguing, digestible format. Especially in this digital age, there is a seemingly endless choice of mediums in which you can do so.

When it comes to retail, the consumers of today will not be allured by a frankly antiquated one-size-fits-all advertising banner; today’s consumer makes buying decisions based on brand value.

That said, there’s no better way to convey your brand message or share your values than through a powerful brand storytelling.

In fact, these days, 45% of a brand’s image can be attributed to what it says and how it says it. Moreover, 92% of people want brands to make ads feel like a genuine story.

We live in an age where the likes of social media and SVoD subscription platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime reign supreme and as such, the average person is far likely to respond to a narrative than a plastic sales slogan.

It’s no well-kept industry secret: meaningful, comprehensive stories strike a relatable chord with consumers.

Here we’re going to explore four quite different but equally effective examples of brand storytelling in the digital age – contemporary brands that have paved the way with their approach in innovative content that engages, inspires, and connects with consumers while also yielding tangible results in the modern world of retail.

Data-fuelled storytelling

By the year 2020, experts predict that a notable 1.7 megabytes of data will be created every second for every single person on the planet. There is a host of data available at our fingertips, and, by leveraging this wealth of digital insights, it’s possible to  to create highly visual, engaging, and targeted stories that speak to your target audience on a personal level.

Take the search engine, tech-innovator, and e-commerce colossus Google for example.

To firmly cement itself in the public consciousness as a socially aware entity with a striking ability to empower the planet with valuable information, the search giant launched its most successful Google Trends campaign last year with its latest Lookback initiative.


Google’s Lookback campaign was driven by a curated selection of its most powerful Google Trends data from the previous year, which was used to develop a video narrative to bring these insights to life.

To this date, this data-fuelled brand storytelling initiative has earned over 18 million views, a true testament to the power of an analytical approach to narrative digital content.

Often, data is a critical component to developing effective content, and ultimately, telling a tale that resonates with your target audience. It’s not always necessary to rely on words to tell a story – data can help you create a unique narrative that’s possible to present through interactive mediums including video, polls, and brand apps.

Customer-driven storytelling

In the digital age, the customer isn’t only right, but is also empowered, leveraging a hyper-connected online community that shares thoughts, feelings, opinions, ideas, thereby eventually influencing the buying decisions of others.

92% of customers trust their peers over traditional advertising. With this in mind, today’s e-commerce and retail businesses must find increasingly engaging ways of communicating their messages with their target audience – and customer-driven brand storytelling is an incredibly powerful outlet.

User-generated videos on YouTube get 10 times more views than content created and uploaded by the brand itself. This is just one of many striking examples of the value of user-generated and customer-driven content.

Customer-driven brand storytelling techniques serve to boost engagement, build consumer loyalty, and expand the reach of your retail brand. By hosting a social media takeover day, launching a blogger outreach scheme, or by inviting influential customers to produce guest posts on your blog, you can use customer-driven storytelling to its full potential.

An excellent example of customer-driven brand storytelling comes from the accommodation icon, Airbnb.

Instead of dominating their web space with versions of their own tale, Airbnb gives its users a platform to jot down meaningful narratives.

This particular platform is called ‘Stories from the Airbnb Community‘ and consists of an innovative mix of enthralling stories from real Airbnb hosts and travellers.

This inspirational and ever-growing selection of user-generated stories not only offers a varied and exciting tone of voice, but also provides genuine insights from people who’ve ‘been there and worn the t-shirt’. It’s far more likely to inspire people to invest in the community, and as a result, the brand. With almost 12 million followers on its primary Facebook account alone, Airbnb is certainly doing something right.

Social storytelling

81% of millennials check their Twitter feeds at least once a day. What’s more, on a regular day, Snapchat reaches 41% of 18 to 34-year-olds in the United States alone. And that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

The point here is that a vast majority of people love social media, and they enjoy following their favourite retail brands via platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. Social media offers a viable outlet on which to connect, carry out research, share thoughts, feelings, and opinions, and consume content. If you share your news by applying a fun, meaningful, or creative approach, you stand to achieve incredible results.

As the saying goes: a picture is worth a thousand words. Using this notion to boost brand awareness and tell the tale of its initiative ‘Crisis Job Swap‘, Starbucks shared multiple behind-the-scenes as well as action photographs to give users an overall insight into the event and make them feel a bonafide part of it.

By turning the event into a full Facebook album, Starbucks was able to share everything that unfolded over the course of the day as well as the emotions on all their employees’ faces and the reactions of everyone involved. An excellent example of emotive, philanthropic storytelling.

Immersive brand storytelling

As the new age dawns, the everyday adoption of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology will rise significantly.

Industry experts predict that more than 200 million virtual reality headsets will be sold by 2020. With VR and AR becoming an increasingly feasible option for brands to connect with their customers through more immersive mediums, new brand storytelling opportunities are presenting themselves all the time.

Not long ago, the world was exposed to the success of Pokemon Go – the augmented reality game that was downloaded by 65 million users in The United States alone.

Harnessing the power of immersive storytelling, Swedish flat pack mogul IKEA leveraged the technology of Apple’s iOS 11 ARKit to develop and launch IKEA Place.

This immersive and entirely innovative application gives users the power to virtually place furniture in the various rooms of their house and get an understanding of how it will fit in with their existing decoration scheme.


The brand, which boasted €35 billion in sales in 2016, explained that the app marked ‘a significant milestone in IKEA’s digital transformation journey’, boosting brand awareness and helping the furniture giant to remain relevant in the ever-evolving world of online retail.

Not only does IKEA empower the customer by putting them in the driver’s seat, but it also helps them to conclude the story by choosing the furniture that features in their homes. A fully-immersive experience that yields tangible results.

As technology becomes more sophisticated, we expect to see some mind-blowing immersive brand storytelling initiatives from retailers in the not-so-distant future.

“People think that stories are shaped by people. In fact, it’s the other way around.” –  Terry Pratchett, novelist

Brand storytelling is a from of digital marketing that drives genuine emotional engagement, resulting in better business performance and increased brand loyalty. And if you want your retail business to thrive in tomorrow’s world, sharing your story with your audience in lots of creative, inspirational ways is not optional but necessary. Don’t miss out.

One of the best ways you can help to build a narrative that gets real results is by knowing exactly who you’re aiming your efforts at. If you want to know how to do that, read our step by step guide to creating effective buyer personas for your business.