Brand storytelling: 7 ways to deliver better stories for consumers
There are two important parts of delivering a message: the delivery and the message. If one is a dud, it doesn’t matter how good the other one is. You wouldn’t read a story if it was printed underneath a bus, and the most atrocious film in the world is still a car crash if played in an IMAX cinema.
The same applies to your brand storytelling, you can have the most heart-warming and engaging campaign in the world, but if it’s not effectively delivered your time and money have been wasted. You wouldn’t want to spend months creating an incredible story only for nobody to hear it, would you?
Every day there are brands who do this by not thinking carefully about how to present their message to their audience. An intelligent delivery strategy will make it easier for people to hear the story you want to tell, optimizing your chances of turning them into customers.
Effective storytelling is particularly important in travel marketing, where you need to sell an experience. Stories are the key to building a deeper connection with the people and places that make up said experience.
With that said, here’s how to ensure that the story your brand is telling doesn’t get missed.
1. Let your story travel everywhere
Just as there are travellers with a wide variety of preferences, people also have unique platform preferences. That means telling your story through just one social media platform won’t be enough. Give your audience the freedom to discover and engage with your story no matter which platform they choose to use.
In other words, make sure your story “travels” everywhere. With many platforms supporting cross-posting, this is easier than ever. You can simply link your accounts for different social media platforms and toggle on the option to cross-post when posting your content.
2. Tell sequential stories with collage and carousel features
Visual storytelling just got easier with the ability to upload multiple images in a single post. For instance, Twitter lets you create collage posts containing up to four photos. Meanwhile, Instagram allows you to upload up to 10 images in a carousel.
These features make it possible to tell impactful stories in a sequence that’s easy to follow. You no longer have to try to fit your entire message in a single photo, which is not only challenging to do but also confusing for your audience. Instead, your post will be able to have a beginning, a middle, and an end, providing your audience with a visual story that they can easily follow.
For example, Contiki uses Twitter collages to tell visual stories of the experiences travellers can enjoy at various destinations.
3. Show; don’t tell
The above example leads to our next point. Stories give you a great opportunity to demonstrate the type of experience travellers can enjoy when they visit a certain destination. As such, you need to use visuals to show them what that experience could be like. This is much more effective than simply telling someone how great the experience is.
For example, Skyscanner leverage Instagram Reels to showcase travel experiences and take the audience on a visual journey.
4. Use location targets to help make them relevant
How does the kid in rural Idaho connect with a story in the same way that a young Manhattaner might? They could have different lifestyles, tastes, and needs that your brand could help with. There are ways to speak to them both, but perhaps you could give them both a place in the story that’s relevant to them?
Facebook posts and Promoted Tweets can all be targeted at specific areas. This makes localizing content easy, giving you the opportunity to tweak your branded story to make certain areas feel more involved than if you’d solely focused on the biggest market, or at least one section of it.
5. Tell stories using real travellers
Stories tend to be much more impactful when they come from real people than from brands. This makes sense because it’s much easier for someone to see themselves in another person and relate to their story than it is to connect with a brand. Moreover, these stories come across as more credible and trustworthy because they come from people who have nothing to gain from it.
In other words, they come from an unbiased source and they’re human enough to be relatable. Meanwhile, a brand’s story may seem more biassed because it’s trying to sell an experience through that story.
That’s the exact reason why brands in the travel industry should leverage stories from real travellers to inspire, engage, and connect with their target audience.
You could share photos from your clients to showcase their experience through visual storytelling. Alternatively, you could even use short video clips of real travellers to tell impactful stories that take the audience on a journey.
Some brands even go so far as to tell highly personal stories and experiences of real travellers so potential clients can connect with the brand more effectively. For instance, Intrepid Travel shares customer stories in the form of social media testimonials. They use Instagram carousels to showcase the story visually and include detailed personal anecdotes in the caption to further elaborate on the story.
6. Tell your story in chapters
Some campaigns and messages aren’t viable to tell through a single post. Even with carousel and collage formats, there are some parts of your message that just can’t fit. Plus, sometimes, you want to build anticipation by not telling the whole story at once. This is why you should consider telling your story in chapters.
This would involve providing snippets, trailers, and teasers that will eventually drive traffic to the main story and keep your audience engaged for longer.
For their #FestivePerfectSomewhere campaign, Hotels.com decided to showcase a series of hotels all decked out for the holidays.
Time for Holiday Hotels and this one is for holiday traditionalists. The Retreat at Elcot Park in the UK is an idyllic countryside getaway for those looking for roaring fires, mulled wine, and board games. #FestivePerfectSomewhere— Hotels.com (@hotelsdotcom) December 22, 2022
📍 https://t.co/X13PEPdght pic.twitter.com/8wrcUBuXrM
7. Have a mascot
The best stories often have strong characters, and brand stories are no different. Having a character who is always associated with your brand can be a major asset to your marketing efforts.
If well-defined, they can convey key character traits that align with your audience and be a flexible building block in your brand’s storytelling. Also, a recognizable character can already have a well-documented backstory or set of quirks, so you don’t need to fill in the audience every time they see the character.
Storytelling is just one piece of a larger marketing puzzle that travel brands need to put together. Want more travel marketing inspiration and tips? Check out our Spotlight Analysis pieces on travel: How marketers are bringing a breath of fresh air to the travel industry and The magical world of Disney - A masterclass in tourism marketing.