For too many brands, the idea of brand storytelling has fallen on deaf – or worse, highly critical – ears. What are they doing wrong?
Molly DeWolf writing in AdWeek helps sort it out for us:
“A young and adored celebrity supermodel breaks free of her gilded cage (and wig) to unite a diverse but misfit group of creative souls whose intrinsic love for humanity is enough to transform an urban, socio-political clash into a moment of beautiful peace and understanding,” she writes. “Pretend you haven’t been on Twitter for the last month and you might agree this is a half-decent germ of an idea—you might even think it was compelling.”
“Now go back and insert ‘Pepsi’ between each word, and you’ll start to see why taking the brand out is so important,” DeWolf adds.
A good story will also be welcome. And it makes for great content when the creators focus on the story, and not on the brand. In fact, as DeWolf notes, “If a story is moving, no one is going to care that it’s brought to you by a brand. Rather, they’re going to be happy the brand brought it to them.
“And by the same token, content that is annoying is now amplified rather than ignored (because no one can resist a good call-out) and can be more harmful to a brand than ever,” she adds.
(Case in point – champagne popsicles. Any other day than Memorial Day, and this would have been fine, on point and appropriate for the audience it was meant to reach. Any other day.)
— Ivanka Trump HQ (@IvankaTrumpHQ) May 28, 2017
Creating brand stories that work is truly tricky business, and DeWolf notes that the gap between brands that are getting right and those that aren’t is widening, drastically. Get it wrong, and you undermine the best of intentions.
“The other side is that compelling stories in the pure and confident voice of your brand can be one of the most powerful media for some of the world’s most important messages,” she notes. “Let your logo take a backseat for these stories. Your logo is not your brand—your story is.”
As marketers, we’ve been trained to create content with solid “brand identity” in mind. And it can be tough to put that aside…and convince the rest of your team why you must. Yet effective engagement with an increasingly savvy and ad-wary audience requires that we do just that.
“The bar has never been higher for companies that want to produce content,” DeWolf concludes, asking, “Are advertisers up to the challenge of taking the brand out of branded content, and putting the humanity back in?”