Big Idea: Brand Storytelling vs Storyliving

The Challenge

Chief marketing officers and other brand leaders are embracing their role as creators of original content and distinctive buyer experiences, nudging budget away from traditional media buys and sponsorship to ever-more innovative, entertaining, educational and engaging techniques.

As in-house creative studios spring up everywhere and corporate collaborations with artists and other creative talent are announced on a near-daily basis, these storytelling investments make sound business sense: stickier content solidifies the brand audience, gives them a reason to engage and can be monetized in all sorts of ways.

But a worst case scenario is playing out way too often: increasing amounts of budget are spent to create 2D media (video series, gifs, memes etc.) that is passively viewed on a variety of screens, and is just as quickly forgotten with a swipe of the finger. The only way to sustain interest is an expensive promotional effort to keep the content top of mind (ie. top of news feed).

The Opportunity

The problem is not with the content, it’s that we’re so focused on the storytelling piece that we repeat the mistakes of broadcast media’s past: we neglect the storyliving opportunity – to enable our audiences to personally contribute, author and personalize the content, to own it, in a sense.

Storyliving goes beyond sweepstakes and other incentive-reward mechanisms. What Helios defines as storyliving is really authorship and access for a brand’s audience. It means creating opportunities for individuals and teams to generate their own version of the content on offer and have that absorbed in some manner into the broader content platform as well as their own lives.

This benefits the brand in at least two concrete ways: storyliving tactics (1) insure a personal connection with consumers and a data windfall for remarketing (2) helps identify and empower brand fans and loyalists who act as super-influencers over the rest of the buyer community.

What to Do About It

Two possible tactics to integrate into a brand’s content creation program are user-generated content and experiential marketing, including immersive digital experiences.

User generated content (UGC) is about using web, smartphone and other inputs to solicit a buyer’s interpretation of the content the brand is putting out; from simple selfie-style video and photo uploads to more sophisticated contributions using brand-supplied mixing/editing tools. From gamified apps to social media takeovers, UGC involves an audience in story creation.

Experiential marketing is more than a traditional event, it’s about immersing a live physical audience (and remote viewers) in a dramatization of the brand’s promise. True experiential marketing lets audiences act out both the values and the product/service benefits of the brand. It requires a sense of story, theatricality, environmental design and technology know-how to produce a special encounter with the brand that instantly forges a lasting connection.

No matter the tactics, the solution is for a brand to enroll its community in the content-creation process in some fashion. The old days of pushing out content for passive consumption-only will continue to decrease in effectiveness as more brands pile into the content realm and the noise level rises.

Now’s the time to start thinking of storyliving as one of your brand’s core missions.

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