What marketing technique will bring the greatest success for brands?
It's the age old question for businesses and the fact so many use a diverse mixture of tactics underlines just how hard it is to identify the best strategy.
But regardless of the marketing mix - be it social media, in-store displays, email marketing or TV adverts - one thing that is clear is the need for your efforts to be underpinned by brand storytelling.
What is brand storytelling?
Brand storytelling is the process of speaking to customers through a series of connected stories. When done correctly, it can communicate ideas, educate and entertain in a compelling manner. By reinforcing a message continuously through a story arc, individuals are much more likely to pick up and digest the information.
While statistics, facts and technical information have their place, it is stories that customers will ultimately respond to.
Ed Woodcock, director of narrative at the Aesop Agency, is confident about the ability of brand storytelling to drive success, pointing to the likes of Apple and McDonalds as companies that have achieved customer buy-in.
"Marketers are waking up to storytelling's unique ability to engage and make an emotional connection with audiences in an age when they are fully in control," he added.
Mr Woodcock has encouraged brands to be "courageously clear" when developing their story, as the opinions they have will be better received if there is an edge to them.
Bearing all of this in mind, let's have a look at two successful case studies of brand storytelling.
The credit card company may be recognised worldwide, but it decided to tailor its story based on industry research that suggested brands can only hold people's attention for 6.5 seconds, Econsultancy reports. The result was the GoInSix campaign, which saw a range of interactive content created to encourage people to spend money on their favourite pastimes, which included dining, shopping and travelling. Six-second videos, six-image vignettes or six words were used to reinforce the message, and the campaign proved to be a huge success. It delivered 284 million earned impressions, which is five times more than any previous Visa campaign.
The software giant has been involved in a long running duel with Google as both try to convince people to use their respective search engines. At the heart of the launch of Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) was the need to communicate the fact it was as exciting, fast and easy to use as Chrome. To this end, the firm hired acclaimed director Edgar Wright to oversee the creation of an animated story called The Random Adventures of Brandon Generator. At the end of each episode, viewers were encouraged to contribute to the series by making suggestions through IE9. This crowdsourced approach led to 308,342 organic YouTube views and 1.7 million IE9 downloads.
What both of these examples demonstrates is how customer engagement is the bedrock of brand success, so companies need to be constantly looking for new ways to boost this particular metric. The bottom line is that whether in-store or online, customers want to be taken on a journey.