At Echo, we’re so thrilled to have completed the #TellThemNow video project. Short films can be powerful vehicles for entertaining, compelling brand storytelling examples. The video can be short, long, loaded with special effects or a true documentary, as long as it tells a great story. The following five videos have very different styles but all tell great stories. Watch them here, plus grab the key takeaways that make them so great.
Brand Storytelling Tip #1 : Embrace Character Development
Let’s start with a classic.
One of the most memorable minutes in advertising history, defensive tackle “Mean Joe” Greene shoots through pretty much the entire hero’s journey monomyth in one television commercial. This wildly successful commercial was reshot for different markets with different sports heroes (like Michel Platini for France, and Niwat Srisawat for Thailand). It is an early, but successful, brand storytelling example.
If Coca Cola had just shot Greene laughing and tossing a football, then enjoying an ice cold Coke, I guarantee you that no one would have remembered that commercial. At Echo, we always say that “it was good, it got better, the end” is not a story. Humans do not have a deep emotional reaction to pleasant blandness. Humans react to story. The interaction with the boy moves Greene’s character forward.
Brand Storytelling Tip # 2: Use A Well-Developed Plot
In Google’s “Parisian Love” ad, the visual is simply Google’s search interface (proof your video doesn’t need to be elaborate). That said, a lot of plot is crammed into under a minute. As each step of the relationship unfolds, the rising action draws the viewer in.You begin, you encounter a problem and you resolve that problem. You are creating a brand storytelling example when you begin to use plot in your content.
Many of us have succumbed to the addictive viral content found on Upworthy, including their much-parodied headlines. What makes them so successful? They promise plot. Plot means entertainment for the viewer. Great examples of brand storytelling use plot to make sure their viewers click on their content in the first place.
Brand Storytelling Tip # 3: Show, Don’t Tell, Your USP
This GoPro video doesn’t show a GoPro camera, mention the GoPro, talk about the benefits of owning a GoPro…it just shows something amazing. So how is it actually promoting GoPro?
Some of best brand storytelling examples don’t use their products as heroes, or even show their product at all. They focus on how their product can be beneficial. This is time-honoured marketing concept of the Unique Selling Proposition, or USP. GoPro uses this footage to make their case for their USP, but they do it using story. In writing, we call this “show, don’t tell”. It’s a shorthand to say that great content comes when you demonstrate something through your story, as opposed to simply stating it. Through this clip, GoPro is saying that their product is capable of capturing the most awe-inspiring moments of your life. That’s their USP. It’s loud and clear, even as they don’t say a word.
Brand Storytelling Tip # 4: Celebrate Your Uniqueness
This video celebrating Johnnie Walker is one of our favourite brand storytelling examples that leverages history to the benefit of the contemporary brand. The high production values, anchored by Robert Carlyle’s badass Scottish attitude, make this more of a short film. Carlyle narrates the story of Johnnie Walker, creating an origin story that positions the brand as innovative yet authoritative.
History is not storytelling. If you are a company looking to mine your history for content, you have to pull out what makes your company unique. Johnnie Walker’s story isn’t about mythologizing the whisky-making process; it’s about celebrating the business acumen and ambition that made them into the biggest whisky blenders in the world. A lot of companies are trying to be storytellers. Brand storytelling that stands out from the pack is unique.
Brand Storytelling Tip #5: Inspire If You Can
As a book lover, I needed a tissue for this video.
(Yes, it’s another whisky ad. It’s still good.)
This uplifting ad celebrates the empowerment of literacy education in a compelling story that only briefly mentions Bell’s Whisky. When the brand reached 1 million Youtube views, they posted that they were humbled by the response. To me, that’s further proof that this video was handled perfectly.
Brands now live in an age of constant conversation with the customer. No matter how big the brand, social media gives the customer an effective platform to air their grievances. In this age, developing positive social media chatter around your brand is crucial. Inspiring, positive content feeds that brand identity.
Inspiring content is difficult. The internet is full of ham-fisted attempts to try and spin marketing pieces off worthy causes. If it feels inauthentic, then you will fail. It’s that simple. Bell’s wisely got out of the way of the story to preserve authenticity. Inspiration often comes when you speak not from a position of power, but of humility. It makes people confident that you’re being real with them.
These five examples of brand storytelling are all very different, but they all follow best practices. When you’re telling your own brand stories, remember to think like a human. Remember what you love about other stories. It’s often what works best.