5 Ways To Improve Your Brand’s Storytelling

If you attended the Advertising Week conference in New York City this month, a mentalist may have read—and blown—your mind. There’s a good chance you waited in a line longer than the Great Wall of China to hear Will Smith’s YouTube talk. And perhaps you heard Gary Vaynerchuk drop quite a few F-bombs onstage to Ken Auletta’s amusement. But one thing’s for certain: There’s no way you caught all 290 sessions in four days. In case you missed it, I’ve collected a few nuggets of advice for brand storytellers and content marketing pros.


1. Get goal-oriented. Before starting a campaign, determine how you’ll measure success. Sivonne Davis, vice president of marketing at L’Oreal USA, advises that marketers stay true to their brand’s identity and purpose, while also differentiating themselves in the marketplace. Understanding your customer profile will help you tailor your content strategy to meet your customers’ needs, she said. “Any good story starts with knowing your audience.”

While many brands dream of becoming a household name, Coca-Cola has a different storytelling goal. As a legacy consumer brand, recognition alone doesn’t cut it. “A lot of people will wear the Coca-Cola T-shirt because they love our brand, but then they’re drinking a Starbucks,” said Kate Santore, Coca-Cola’s content excellence lead. In an effort to translate brand appreciation into purchase intent, her team’s stories follow the brand’s ethos and draw insights from those working at every level of the company, from truck drivers to packaging designers. “We don’t engage in any story we can’t back up,” says Santore. “We’re not telling stories for the sake of storytelling.”


2. Follow the data story.  When Under Armour bought the MyFitnessPal health tracker app in 2015, it also inherited a boatload of data, including the world’s largest food database. Under Armour uses machine learning to parse the data and better understand its customers. Jim Mollica, Under Armour’s global digital SVP, recounted his confusion when he would spot coffee shop patrons wearing barely-there shorts. Who would wear that outside? he wondered.

Thanks to machine learning he discovered the fastest, most hardcore runners go for shorts with 7-inch seams. Under Armour’s marketing team then tweaked their content strategy and pushed more relevant, personalized content to that consumer niche. The data also inspired them to develop new products, including a chip-powered shoe, to help speed runners run faster, Mollica said.


3. Make B2B better. Have you ever struggled to differentiate your B2B marketing in such a crowded space? According to Trade Desk CMO Susan Vobejda, it’s all about connecting with consumers on an emotional level. “It’s really about something other than, ‘My tech is better than your tech. My functionality is better than your functionality,’ she said. “That’s an important part of the story, but truly it’s about the emotion, the human piece. What is the brand doing for people?”


4. Listen to your audience. Back in 2015 Twitter users created the trending hashtag #GiveDivasAChance to criticize the WWE’s insufficient portrayal of women. Within days, CEO Vince McMahon tweeted, “We hear you. Keep watching. #GiveDivasAChance.” The company then rebranded their women’s division, scrapped the term “diva” in favor of the unisex “superstars,” and raised the profile of its female pro wrestlers, signing on new talent like Ronda Rousey, said Stephanie McMahon, Chief Brand Officer. “Your audience, your consumer, will tell you what they want. You just have to listen,” she said.


5. Empower your employees. You may have noticed more brands taking a politically charged stance in their campaigns and asked yourself what steps your brand should take before joining a debate. Marketing executives on the “What Brands Must Do To Engage Today’s Conscious Consumers” panel suggested surveying employees internally to gauge opinions and empowering them to become brand ambassadors. “If the employees are not champions/ ambassadors for the brand, then we have no hope with the consumer who is a bit further away from that engagement,” said L’Oreal USA’s Davis.

The WWE provides guidelines and training for its entertainers to help them better use their digital platforms and create content. “Every one of our superstars understands that they’re businessmen and -women and that the more they build their brand presence, the better their business is going to be,” Stephanie McMahon said.

Article written by: Krystle Davis