I firmly believe that a podcast is the best way for a brand to tell great stories. But most brands struggle with storytelling. They take the “brand” component too literally and make it all about them. Or they create content without a real story.
But done well, brand storytelling can be your chance to draw and engage an audience in a meaningful way. Plus, it can differentiate you from your competitors.
Think about the last great podcast you enjoyed. Chances are it applied storytelling to its format. It’s one of the many reasons why podcasts help fix the leak in your marketing funnel, by retaining the customer’s attention.
What is brand storytelling?
On her blog, Defined, Kaitlin Loyal offers a great definition:
“Brand storytelling is using a narrative to connect your brand to customers, with a focus on linking what you stand for to the values you share with your customers.”
Breaking down the key elements of the definition, some key points include:
It involves a narrative, storytelling elements, including characters, setting, conflict, rising action, climax, and dénouement/conclusion.
When she says “what you stand for”, she refers to the essence of your brand. “It’s not the product you sell, and it’s not to make money. It’s the driving force behind your business, and it differentiates you from the competition.”
Values are the character traits of your company that define it … “A company’s values are the best behaviors of your best employees on their best days.”
As Simon Sinek famously says in his TED Talk:
“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.”
Key to this is leaving out any marketing in the stories, focused instead on the content and how it’s communicating your brand’s ‘why’. Can there be mention of the brand? Sure, but 99% of the episode should be focused on delivering value to the listener.
With podcasts exploding, brands are embracing podcasts and applying data-driven insights to focus on their audience needs. In doing so they have become broadcasters, and the content is fantastic.
Here are 5 examples of brands using storytelling through podcasts to define and document their why.
Listeners to this fictional podcast by BMW follow the story of Hope Reiser who awakes from a 30-year sleep in the year 2063 after being convicted of murder. She is convinced, however, of her innocence and suspects the real murderers have been waiting for her to awake and are watching her. There’s no product placement in the episodes. Instead, references to BMW come as “secret hints” that the spokeswoman said only the most die-hard fans will notice.
2 Minutes of Zen
A fantastic podcast that stretches the norm of podcast structure is by toothpaste brand Zendium. A podcast about toothpaste sounds, ummm, about as much fun as going to the dentist, but Zendium’s 2 Minutes of Zen show is far more creative than that — and you can listen to a whole episode in the time it takes to finish brushing your teeth.
On Life and Land
John Deere created a magazine for its target market, Furrow & Homestead. With absolutely beautiful photography, the magazine appeals to its customers and is something they would be proud to display on their coffee table. If a love of the land is shown in their magazine’s photos, the same is true for their podcast’s use of audio. It talks about sustainability, food, and other issues of importance to farmers while using field recording to build intimacy and authenticity.
Bring Back Bronco
This bi-weekly podcast from Ford unearths stories like the formation and diligence of the “Bronco Underground,” a band of Ford employees who schemed, worked and toiled for more than two decades to bring the Bronco back to Ford showrooms.
Out Travel The System
Produced by JAR Audio, Expedia‘s podcast brings you the information that travelers both want and need right now as we try to navigate the world of travel during the pandemic. Leveraging the travel expertise and data that Expedia is known for, host Nisreene Atassi weaves in her personal stories (and those of the guests) to give the listeners “news you can use”. What’s the best way to plan for destinations like Hawaii and Japan? How do you indulge in our love of food while staying safe? The show looks ahead to how travellers can safely plan their travels.
How is your brand using storytelling? Have you had success, or are you facing challenges? Please reach out below and share your experience or challenges. We’d be happy to help.
Roger Nairn is the Co-Founder and CEO of JAR Audio.