Stories play a critical role in today’s consumer marketplace. Bombarded with brand messaging from an array of channels and touchpoints, consumers are hungry for stories that resonate and invite them to have a deeper connection with the brands that are important to them.
But for marketers, it’s not enough to simply tell brand stories. More than ever, leading brands are recognizing the urgency of creating cross-channel stories—powerful brand narratives that are accessible via multiple device types and reach consumers across all available channels.
With the omnichannel marketplace moving full steam ahead, the most successful retailers and consumer brands will be the ones that excel at delivering cross-channel brand stories that are engaging, consistent, and memorable.
Why Cross-Channel Stories Are Important
Cross-channel brand stories draw consumers deeper into a brand's culture and invite them to envision the brand as a meaningful part of their lives. When these stories are executed well, consumers share them with their social networks, and the stories begin to take on viral qualities.
But cross-channel brand stories are also important because they exist at the nexus of art and science. The art involves the creative process that develops impactful deliverables for consumption across a range of channels; the science focuses on the use of analytics to identify core audiences and to improve the effectiveness of brand stories, wherever they appear.
The use of cross-channel brand stories requires both art (creative development) and science (cross-channel analytics) to generate bottom-line outcomes for retailers and consumer brands. While the art is catalyzed by the idea, the science perfects the art by aligning the brand’s stories with the needs of audiences and real-world behaviors of the omnichannel marketplace.
5 Ways To Improve Your Cross-Channel Brand Stories
Cross-channel brand stories are key elements of the rapidly expanding omnichannel commerce space. To maintain or grow market share, any brand that engages in omnichannel commerce activities should be proactive about improving its ability to deliver stunning cross-channel stories to consumers.
1. Define The Narrative
Effective cross-channel brand stories are built on solid narratives that are rooted in market realities. Analytics give creatives the ability to understand how consumers are behaving across all channels and platforms (i.e., mobile, social, e-commerce, brick-and-mortar, etc.).
By defining and crafting narratives around these insights, creatives are able to blend actual consumer behaviors with the creative process. This helps them to develop stories that capture the imaginations of key audiences and inspire them to engage more deeply with the brand.
2. Leverage Emotion
Emotion has always been an important ingredient in storytelling. When it’s done well, emotion can plant brand messaging in the hearts and minds of audiences, and quickly communicate a sense of the brand’s values to large numbers of consumers.
Humor is often used to evoke emotions in brand storytelling. The best examples are funny, witty messages that take on a life of their own through social media and other channels. But too often, attempts at humor fall flat, leading many consumers to wonder whether the brand understands them at all.
Regardless of whether you’re trying to evoke a giggle or some other emotional response, it’s critical to infuse your efforts to evoke emotion with analytical insights that reveal the values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors of cross-channel audiences.
3. Provide Value
Savvy cross-channel marketers understand that stories need to deliver some form of value to consumers. This value can come in many shapes, including useful information, engaging content, special offers, and more.
But the key to delivering value is to offer noninvasive opportunities for consumers to engage with the brand. If the story culminates with a request for the consumer to provide personal information, complete a survey, or submit some other type of data to the brand, then it’s impact will be limited. Instead, look for ways to reward customers and create loyalty through fun and engaging cross-channel experiences.
4. Create An Experience
In cross-channel brand storytelling, memorable stories that are shared across platforms and channels can combine to create a singular, impressive brand experience. For example, Apple has excelled in creating a consistent experience that enables consumers to seamlessly locate and purchase products, whether they are visiting an Apple store or connecting with the brand from a mobile device.
By focusing your storytelling efforts on the creation of a unified brand experience, each channel can feed off of the momentum that is generated in other channels and platforms—strengthening customers’ relationships with the brand and motivating them to reward the brand with their loyalty.
5. Be Accessible
Cross-channel brand stories need to be noticed and accessible. In addition to deploying your brand stories across multiple devices and platforms, it’s important to take the extra step to raise the visibility of your stories among target audiences.
Cross-channel capabilities allow you to promote stories delivered on one channel across a range of other channels. For example, if you invest the time and energy creating a video to tell a brand story on YouTube, then make it accessible to key audiences by promoting it on Twitter, the company Web site, and other channels.
More than anything else, cross-channel brand stories need to be memorable. By leveraging analytics to cull insights about consumer attitudes and cross-channel behaviors, you can significantly improve the value of the content you create and boost the impact of your brand stories across all available channels.