Sound a bit woolly? It's not really. It's an important part of creating a strong and marketable brand. But how on Earth do you do it? This is how...
In our world (and maybe yours, apologies if this first couple of paragraphs is teaching you to suck eggs), "narrative" is one of those words that's just been done to death.
"We need more of a narrative." "I can't see the narrative developing." "Where's the narrative going from here?" It was a real buzz-word for a while. But we've kind of come out the other side of that now.
What's a Narrative?
A narrative is a vital part of telling the story of your company or business, and selling it to potential customers or users. From schools and colleges, to insurance firms and car salespeople; having a narrative sells because it engages the audience.
It's a shaped story; something which develops in a way that triggers some form of emotional engagement with the recipient and leaves them feeling enriched at the end of it. The by-product of showing your company in this way is that you are forever associated with that feeling of enrichment. Whether it's happiness, satisfaction or gained knowledge; it's all good and it all increases sign up rates, conversions or sales in the long run.
Once upon a time, stories had a beginning, middle and end. Narrative is slightly different; it has a complication which gets resolved and leaves you better off for having gone through said complication.
Still Sounds a Bit Woolly,
Can You Give Me an Example?
We were tasked with helping a local council to improve school attendances. They came to us wanting an agency to bring some creative ideas to the table. What we ended up doing is creating two strong and identifiable characters - Sam and Sammie - who school children could respond to, engage with (literally; they proved so popular that real life versions of our hand drawn characters visited schools and proved to be a real hit) and learn from. We even created an interactive website with games and parental advice to continue the story online.
The children experienced the narrative of Sam and Sammie being late for school and potentially missing out on all the great things that happen when you get there on time. It translated into real world examples that they appreciated, and attendances soared. Check out the complete case study to see our work for Doncaster Council here.
It's a technique which is used to market, showcase and brand everything from chocolate bars to mortgages. That's because it works.
With animated characters, they can be used in motion graphic videos and be printed on posters and other learning materials. Your characters can become a central part of your teaching.
Though, Hold On,
How Do I Start Creating A Narrative For My Company?
Well, the best place to start is working out what your own interesting story is. What we want to end up with is a narrative where your company is the solution and resolution to any obstacles in your own narrative - just like Sam and Sammie were students of a local school who managed to get around the problem of being late and were better off for it.
Bullet point some thoughts on the following ideas, to help get the message you want to put across sorted:
- Who started your company and when? If you are a school, college or other training centre; you might want to consider this question in terms of since the last change of Head or rebrand.
- What does the company want to achieve?
- How does it helps its users/customers/students?
- Why X? Why does doing X make sense for you?
Then, answer this in one sentence: What problem does your company help solve better than anyone else in the world?
Now we know the answer to that question, we have the tools to start building a narrative for your company that can be used to shape all sorts of things.
The history and shaping of the business is a great story to tell. It makes great webpage copy and brand promotion. What you want to achieve - for you and whoever uses you - is a great selling point.
How you help others by solving a problem of their own is great to use in marketing videos and printed materials. It's the old advertising technique of "'Gee-whiz, dusting these carpets is such hard work!' 'Fear not! The Wonder Vac by 50s Household Products Ltd takes all the hard work out of dusting for you!'"
Obviously, your narrative would be far more effective. To break it down, the principle of creating a narrative for your company is as follows:
- Isolate the problem that your company solves.
- Create a means of showing that problem to your market audience.
- Show your company being the one solving that problem.
The bullet points that you brainstormed earlier will dictate how this looks, feels and is put across in your campaigns. Sam and Sammie were cartoon characters aimed at younger children, but we also helped Yorkshire Wildlife Park create animated creepy crawlies that engage various ages. We help corporate companies professionally show their business to prospective clients and customers.
What all of these companies and businesses have in common is that they are using a narrative to show that they can help.
Aim Your Narrative At The Right Persona
Once you have created a killer narrative that hooks in potential customers like a burger van next to a building site, you need to make sure you've got it aimed at some properly researched personas.
It's no use creating a narrative, tone of voice and pitch that's aimed at a certain type of person when, in fact, you need to be speaking to a whole other somebody.
Conduct some proper persona research with this free template which we use ourselves;