How to plan, produce and measure brand storytelling

In my last blog post, I shared my learnings from a recent workshop led by Brittney Dunkins about how to be a better storyteller.

I talked about why brand storytelling is important and how companies can start to implement processes that will help create content that is engaging and ties back to their brand’s mission and core values.

One company that lives and breathes strategic brand storytelling is Clif Bar & Company. Spend a few minutes scanning their content hub, and you can tell what their brand values are: health, wellness, adventure, sustainability, and nature.

Examples of stories you’ll find in the Our Stories section of their website include a profile of one of the small farms they partner with and an article that shares 5 tips for starting a commute incentive program at your company.

Clif Bar’s storytelling translates to their Instagram account that features amazing travel photos from fans who have used the hashtag #FeedYourAdventure. Within all of this content, you will never see a CTA to purchase their products. Instead, Clif Bar is focused on connecting with a like-minded community of people, who chances are, are buying their products.

As Dunkins shared in the workshop, brand storytelling doesn’t stop with the story framework. Brands like Clif Bar take the next step and put the framework into action.

Planning strategic brand stories

It’s time to call in your A Team. Having a variety of disciplines around the table will provide the diversity of insight and expertise you want when kicking off the project. Who you ask to sit around the table will differ project by project. Consider inviting content experts, writers, editors, developers, graphic designers, videographers, and digital marketing experts.

Now that you have your team gathered, use the kickoff to share the story framework. Walk them through the goal, brand values, and stories that were outlined. Getting them up to speed on the framework provides a good centering point for everyone to begin discussing the best strategy. The strategy you develop will be the path you take to reach your storytelling goal.

As you map out the strategy, ask the team these questions:

  • What platform and channel mix is going to allow us to reach our audience?
  • What activities or tactics will we use to reach our goal?
  • Do we need to employ a paid social strategy?
  • Are we using a mix of channels, and should we cross-promote our content?

There are a lot of questions that need to be answered during the planning process, which is why having the right mix of people around the table will set you up for success.

Producing story content

“One of the most important things you can do for your content creators is to help them understand your strategy —from what business goals you’re trying to achieve to what your users want and expect from you to why you decided to create the content you’re asking them to produce.” Meghan Casey, author and content strategist

As you move into production, use the story framework and defined strategy to articulate to your writer, designer, and/or videographer what you need them to create. Providing them with as much information as possible upfront helps them do what they do best while supporting the overall goal and strategy. It also helps reduce the potential for multiple revisions during the review phase.

Here’s a tip for teams that find themselves drowning in a sea of multiple revision rounds as they incorporate feedback that — to be honest — may not be helpful. Avoid this by giving your review team specific instructions on what you want their feedback on. For example, your SME should review for accuracy not for style or grammar. The content strategist or senior editor should review to make sure the tone of voice and brand messaging is on point and is aligned with the brand style guide.

Measuring brand storytelling

I can’t stress enough how important measurement is. Without key performance indicators (KPIs) it is hard to know if the tactics you implemented met the goal and objectives. An example of measurable KPIs you might outline include:

  • Generate X impressions among current and potential customers through paid media campaigns
  • Drive X unique visitors to a specific landing page on your website
  • Increase Facebook engagement by X percentage
  • Increase video views by X percentage

As you determine the KPIs you want to measure, connect with your development and analytics team. They provide insight and expertise that help determine the best metrics to report on and how to track them. When you’re ready to report on the KPIs, work with your analytics team to create a report that is concise, straightforward and, most importantly, shows how you are doing toward your goal.

It is no secret that consumers buy from brands they like and feel a connection with. Don’t be afraid to move away from creating content that is focused on selling a product or service. Using brand storytelling will help your company be more authentic and connect with your audience on a deeper level.