Everyone seems to want to be a storyteller, but few brands manage to deliver a compelling narrative. It’s a tricky line to walk, balancing authenticity with careful composition and organic stories with on-brand messaging. Often, it’s up to the company’s CMO to come up with the creative vision, to own and tell the story of the brand. The most successful CMOs eschew flashy gimmicks, the storytelling equivalent of cinematic lens flare, and instead focus on bringing a fresh perspective to customers. Not all stories are fiction; some of them are clever truths. Here are 5 pieces of advice from CMOs who know how to get to the heart of a good story.
1. Show Don’t Tell—Loren Angelo, Audi:
“Instead of just announcing that Audi had an all new lineup of fuel efficient and environmentally friendly new TDI clean diesel solutions, we approached it with a story that exaggerated one of the misperceptions that high performance luxury sedans don’t use diesel. In this communication, an Audi A8 pulls into a fueling station where the driver begins to use the clean diesel pump when, in slow motion, the many bystanders attempt to stop her, thinking she’d made a mistake. Towards the end, she simply responds ‘I know,’ illustrating she clearly knows what she is doing while signaling to another Audi A6 TDI clean diesel driver that gives her a confirming nod. It was a clever way of telling the story that Audi has many TDI clean diesel models and those in the know realize it’s the smart solution for the future.”
2. Know Thy Audience—Jennifer Warren, RadioShack:
“Our brand promise, ‘Anything is possible, when we do it together,’ is a great platform for storytelling. We generate a lot of content that show how customers can use technology to solve problems or bring ideas to life (turn lights on and off with their cell phone and a WeMo switch) or bring ideas to life (3D print your latest prototype and put it through our product incubator process to bring it to market). We want to partner and build a truly collaborate relationship with our customers. Our goal is to help them realize their goals, help answer their questions and solve their problems.”
3. Communicate a Clear Message—Alison Lewis, Johnson and Johnson:
“JOHNSON’S® is one recent example of how we’ve enhanced the story of one of our most beloved brands. Increasingly, we heard from our consumers that they had concerns about certain ingredients in our baby products. All the ingredients used in our baby care products have always been safe, and meet or exceed government standards for safety. But trust is at the heart of our baby equity, and we wanted to communicate to our consumers that we listened to their concerns and we know their trust is something that we must continue to earn. We knew that our actions would speak louder than our words, and we made the decision to reformulate our baby products for trust. As our reformulated products hit shelves, we launched a new campaign, ‘Your Promise is Our Promise’ to illustrate our heartfelt commitment to the moms, dads and families that use our products.
“To tell the story behind our promise, we launched our biggest social media campaign with more than 40 informative and entertaining videos that speak to our JOHNSON’S® brand promises, baby care education and the parenting journey. We’ve seen millions of consumers interact with our video content, comment on our social channels and learn more about what our brand stands for due to our ability to connect through storytelling.”
4. Show Something New—Kieran Hannon, Belkin International:
“Finally, storytelling is back. Hallelujah! That is the power of a brand—how its story resonates and is shared amongst its customers. We are telling stories with WeMo in how people can use the products in ways they never even thought possible. There’s such a joy in illuminating how technology can help make people’s lives better and more engaging.”
5. Break the Mold with Audience Participation—Mayur Gupta, Kimberly-Clark:
“… We believe in the power of having a brand story but not necessarily in ‘storytelling’ because that still represents the old mindset that lacks participation and engagement. We believe in ‘story building’ where, as brands, we share stories that are connected to our brand promise. These stories inspire consumer behavior and participation where eventually our consumers end up creating their own stories on a canvas and foundation that we provide. That is the ultimate state for us that we call ‘story building.’”