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Top 4 Elements of Exceptional Brand Storytelling

Great stories compel us to move forward and encourage us to wonder, explore, and connect with the world and those who inhabit it with us. As we discussed in our previous article, How Effective Storytelling Enables Marketers to Connect with their Audience, storytelling is incredibly important in sharing our human experience. It helps us emotionally connect with the inspirations, struggles, and emotions of the author as well as others who have experienced their story.  

But how can you ensure you tell your own stories well within your marketing campaigns, and successfully encourage your audience to take your desired action? In this article, we’ll examine the elements compelling stories most often share, so you can ensure that your brand’s messaging resonates with your audience.  

Elements That All Inspiring Stories Share

There are four unique elements that separate compelling stories from drivel. Gripping stories often feature:  

  1. A hook that convinces your audience to engage with you  

  2. A threshold that acts as a call to adventure   

  3. Tension that keeps your audience engaged throughout  

  4. A transformation that gets your audience invested emotionally

1. A Hook that Convinces Your Audience to Engage with You

Have you ever read the opening of a story that was so interesting that you just had to keep reading? Any writer will tell you that each sentence should fill your audience with enough intrigue that it leads them to read the next sentence, and the next, and the next. A weak opening can make or break your chance to continue to engage with your audience, much like how your first impression in an interview can make or break your chance of getting the job.   

Your brand story needs a hook; one so compelling that your audience can’t help but to continue to engage with your brand.  

One of the most memorable commercials of all time is Nike’s Find Your Greatness. It’s opening line starts with, “Greatness: It’s something we’ve made up.” Success is something we all strive for. We wake up day after day looking for the next opportunity to improve, which makes this opening line quite antithetical to what we traditionally think of greatness. This makes it a great hook because it encourages you to continue to listen to what they mean by that line.   

This advertisement is just one example of how you could create a solid hook. You could also hook your audience by:  

  • Starting with bombastic action  

  • Crafting an emotional connection  

  • Beginning with a life-changing situation that is universal to the human experience  

What matters is that your opening is interesting enough to get your audience to read the next sentence, and the next until they take your desired action.   

2. A Threshold that Acts as a Call to Adventure

One of the greatest examples of thresholds in all of media is the Blue Pill or Red Pill scene in The Matrix. During this part of the movie, Neo is posed with the choice to figure out the truth of the world by taking the red pill, or staying in his current, mundane reality by taking the blue pill. This threshold is indirectly posed to the audience asking them, “What if?” And that what if encourages them to take a leap a faith and go on a journey.  

While, as marketers, we may not be asking our audience to take actions that could change the very fabric of how we understand space and time, we’re still asking them to get out of their comfort zone. Whether you're selling software, services, or consumer goods, you're trying to convince your audience to make a choice and pick your offering over competitors. For that reason, your messaging should paint a picture on how their lives could look different (and for the better) by partnering with you.

3. Tension that Keeps Your Audience Engaged Throughout

Tension is like a rollercoaster: It builds to the conflict of your story and keeps your audience on the edge of their seats. It generates an emotional investment in the stakes of your story, and without it, you could argue you don’t even have a story. Situations that create tension evoke emotions, such as stress, worry, anxiety, doubt, or fear.  

Within marketing, tension demonstrates that a lack of solutions can lead to negative outcomes. People’s natural avoidance of discomfort provides a sense of purpose. How you build tension may look a bit different compared to a traditional narrative, but the principles are still the same.  

Every customer has a problem to solve; you can use these challenges to build tension. Describing these challenges, such as not having the tools to succeed or the general discomfort found within staying with the status quo, can build tension within your audience, encouraging them to break the shackles that bind them to their current, less-ideal situation.  

4. A Transformation that Gets Your Audience Invested Emotionally

If tension is the villain of your brand story, then your brand’s purpose is to enable your customer to become heroes. Successful brand stories paint a picture on how your audience can break away from their tension and move forward as a hero with purpose. That’s why, at Lev, we let the success of our clients demonstrate our success. 

Every day, we help marketing teams hone their strategy by ensuring they have the right talent and tools needed for success, as well as weave platform capabilities and brand stories that craft compelling customer experiences.  

Discover how we've helped successful brands amplify their stories and operations by reading “How We’ve Helped Clients Lay a Solid Marketing Foundation Going Into 2023.” Together, we can establish a tech foundation and build a strategy that enables you to solve your customers’ most complex challenges.