What’s your story? This is a question many of us can answer both for ourselves and the brands we create, curate and care for. How well are you utilizing storytelling to craft your brand message?
Knowing the basis for your brand story, where it comes from, and where it can go helps drive messaging momentum and meaning. A recent Advertising Age article shared that there are seven basic types of stories that explore human archetypal plots and all brand messaging can be boiled down into one or another:
1. Overcoming the Monster
4. Journey and Return
5. Rags to Riches
Seeing your company as a publishing house and sharing compelling narratives through design, motion and content is something we hope everyone is familiar with—but how to share the story across platforms and media is something more to consider. Professor Henry Jenkins (formerly of MIT, now at USC), a transmedia scholar and founder of the Convergence Culture Consortium, distills the concept further: “Transmedia storytelling represents a process where integral elements get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience.”
Learn the four key takeaways for brands and advertisers to consider in transmedia storytelling:
1. Make stories drillable. Don’t just place across media and spread your message thin—have some avenue for deeper dives of info and insights.
2. Each piece of a story must be enriching, but not essential, to its overall experience. With storytelling becoming less confined by distribution channels, stories are taking on fluid, reactive and flexible new forms.
3. Recognize the power of your fans. Content creators must approach fans, where they already congregate and exist, as co-creators of their narratives, rather than barometers.
4. Build a world, not just a story.
Now, with anytime, anywhere platforms and engagement opportunities, brands can design storytelling to be impactive and connective seamlessly and successfully across media and experiences. Consider storytelling as it relates to your customer’s decision journey and the markers guiding the way along the path. Where does your storytelling begin? How does it continue? Are there gaps, and how can your storytelling move beyond one-way communication toward ownership and advocacy via those customers that become passionate and caring about the brand?
A Harvard Business Review interview, “The Art of Purposeful Storytelling,” with Peter Gruber, chairman and CEO of Mandalay Entertainment Group, shares four truths to storytelling:
1. Be authentic in your story and how you’re sharing it.
2. Be interested in your audience and let them own the story.
3. Have a set goal for the story.
4. Telling a story is an act of listening—engaging and interactive in dialogue.
Gruber goes on to say that as storytellers, “We’re all in the emotional transportation business.” That said, let’s get moving, together.
There’s a quiet revolution that’s moving metrics mainstream. Many brands count on it. We step on scales to monitor our weight and now also measure with smartphones, apps and apparel, disparate, yet quantifiable, aspects of our personal self to create a mosaic of metrics and meaning. Miles logged, calories burned, money saved and spent, dinners eaten, microbrewed beers consumed and destinations accomplished are just a few examples of self-tracking.
Considered more of a movement than just defining terminology, the “quantified self,” according to Wikipedia, “incorporates technology into data acquisition on aspects of a person’s daily life." “Quantified self” was first coined byWired editor Gary Wolf in 2007, who shared in a recent TED talk that “the self is just our operation center, our consciousness, our moral compass. So, if we want to act more effectively in the world, we have to get to know ourselves better.”
In a recent Harvard Business Review article, “You, By the Numbers: Better Performance By Self-Quantification,” author and senior researcher James Wilson shared that “applied the right way, auto-analytics can provide hard evidence in situations where traditionally we’ve relied on intuition and anecdotal feedback. Quantifying yourself is a revelatory experience—and perhaps the best thing you can do to improve your career and your life.”
MIT professor Deb Roy stated in an NPR podcast on the personal data revolution, “The idea is this: As our world becomes increasingly instrumented and we have the capabilities to collect and connect the dots, it’s like building a microscope or a telescope and revealing new structures about our own behavior around communication. And, I think the implications here are profound, whether it’s for science, for commerce, for government, or perhaps most of all, for us as individuals.”
Tim Chang, managing director of Mayfield Fund, shared in a recent Tech Crunch article: “This goes way beyond health and fitness. Though the quantified self’s roots are in ‘life hacking,’” Chang holds that the notion of quantified self will eventually include nearly everything that people do. "It’s about your consumer habits all throughout your day, from what sites you surf, what you buy, to what you like to brag about on your Facebook and Twitter.”
Here are four key takeaways toward utilizing the quantified self in branding efforts.
1. Know what to track.
Know what customers are tracking as it relates to your brand and consider how those data points can be leveraged into your communications. Conversely, know what data your organization already tracks, such as online analytics, store sales and social monitoring.
2. Keep it simple.
Integrate the quantified self-data tracking simply and seamlessly. For example, Nike+ and Nike Fuel are non-intrusive monitoring and metrics devices and the eventual data displays are consumer-friendly.
3. Make it fun.
Make data-tracking fun for participants by developing a sort of gamification component to offset potential user fatigue and enhance user engagement and retention of the data.
4. Provide insights.
Foster insights, not information, such that consumers aren’t continually bombarded with new data, but rather interpretations of the data leading towards insight. Sharing benefits via trending helps to strengthen bonds between consumers and brand.
Do you have a good understanding of your consumer’s decision journey toward brand engagement? Understanding consumer behavior will help you know where you need to put your brand’s resources.
In the Harvard Business Review article, Branding in the Digital Age: You’re Spending Your Money in All the Wrong Places, David Edelman, co-leader of McKinsey & Company’s Global Digital Marketing Strategy practice, shared insight into the consumer decision journey. “Consumers still want a clear brand promise and offerings they value. What has changed is when—at what touch points—they are most open to influence, and how you can interact with them at those points. Marketers have long used the famous funnel metaphor to think about touch points: Consumers would start at the wide end of the funnel with many brands in mind and narrow them down to a final choice. In the June 2009 issue of McKinsey Quarterly, my colleague David Court and three coauthors introduced a more nuanced view of how consumers engage with brands: the consumer decision journey. The new consumer decision journey is–Consider, Evaluate, Purchase, Enjoy, Advocate.”
This video shares more of David Edelman and McKinsey & Company’s high-level insights into the consumer decision journey.
Here are five steps to defining your consumer decision journey:
1. Engage customers via online surveys, in-store interviews, focus groups, one-on-one interviews or any number of other research methodologies in order to hear from them.
2. Use Google analytics for baseline site data on in-bound navigation, visitor click streams throughout the site and many other important key performance indicators.
3. Dig into social media platforms to monitor and listen to the conversations about customer interactions with your brand.
4. Step into the shoes of one your customers and experience your brand—and your competitors’ brands—from their perspective.
5. Define patterns among and within the data.
To know more about the different points along your customer’s decision journey, all you have to do is listen; many of your customers are willing to share their story. With answers and insights from your consumers, you’re now ready to map out a visual platform outlining your brand’s consumer decision journey.
Here, at Designsensory, visual design is at the forefront of what we do, but our capabilities go well beyond creating what is seen, to where, when and how it will be seen via media planning.
PetSafe partnered with us to develop a strategy, media plan and media placements for their Stay + Play Wireless Fence campaign. Regionally launched in Birmingham, AL, Nashville, TN, and Richmond, VA, the integrated marketing included print advertising, television commercials, online, social media and public relations.
Strategy and research are central to media planning before, during and after the campaign. Awareness, attitude and usage studies were conducted, revealing what people knew about PetSafe in each market prior to the advertising.
Also, before we launched the campaign, separate A/B testing and focus groups were conducted on the print ads and TV commercial. Once the creative was adjusted and approved, we met with the PR and social media teams to make sure there would be a consistent message throughout the campaign.
Here is a 10-step process to developing a solid media plan:
1. Learn about the product and campaign goals
2. Develop creative
3. Know the customer
4. Agree on a budget
5. Determine markets
6. Gather media info
7. Develop media recs
8. Negotiate rates
9. Place media
10. Monitor campaign and refine tactics
Media planning can often be an intensive process but, if properly executed, well worth the effort for publicity and profits.
Learn more about our how our media planning, strategy and marketing capabilities integrate and augment the value of our world-class creative, design and technical services.