May 25, 2021
Storytelling

5 ways to use digital storytelling to strengthen your brand

When the emotions and senses are both fully engaged, experiences become more memorable.
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An article written by

Jessica Endert

,
Head of Strategy and Concept @ Purple

The value of visual storytelling and branding

Last week I saw something so unbelievable and totally crazy; at first it truly shocked me, but now I realize it actually changed my life. Do you want to hear about it?

Of course you do!

People are naturally curious and love to hear a good story – it’s the best way to really hold the attention of your audience. Our clever brains are naturally adapted to identify and absorb stories, and this is the best way of engaging with people on an emotional level too. When the emotions and senses are both fully engaged, experiences become more memorable.

We can also form strong emotional connections with potential customers by using storytelling that resonates with them – and this can forge a stronger customer relationship. By using a well-constructed ‘visual story’, your company can communicate a rich, emotive message that outlines and reinforces your corporate branding.

We’re all familiar with ‘branding’; it’s a well-established tool for ensuring recognisability. It’s pretty much essential for any scale of business – from an electrician to an energy supply company.

Without a recognizable brand, your company has no identity – people simply don’t know who you are. A well-formed brand story really counts, because it enables people to understand your company in terms of human values. These are emotive values that really matter to people and motivate them to action, such as friendship, love, honesty, trust, morality, and fun - to name a few. 

Without a recognizable brand, your company has no identity – people simply don’t know who you are. A well-formed brand story really counts, because it enables people to understand your company in terms of human values. These are emotive values that really matter to people and motivate them to action, such as friendship, love, honesty, trust, morality, and fun - to name a few. 

People are seldom motivated by other values such as efficiency, availability, or cost (despite being good pragmatic reasons), because they appeal to logic and not emotion. While these logical reasons might be used to reinforce a decision afterwards, emotive human values are usually the ones pulling our strings in the first place.  

While the focus is usually placed on how customers recognize your company (external perspective), a cohesive brand identity has value for employees too (internal perspective). It helps staff to identify with and adopt ‘company values’ and reflect them in their interactions with each other - and with the outside world.

A company with a brand story that identifies it as ‘fun’ and ‘friendly’ is more likely to have workers who are happy in the workplace and have interactions that display these values. I think we all have an idea of what it must be like to work in the Google office, for example – their brand story is so pervasive that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Together, the external and internal perspectives will reinforce each other, and your brand identity becomes concrete.

What is digital and visual storytelling?

Storytelling is without a doubt one of the most powerful ways to get a brand message across. 

Visual storytelling has all the elements of verbal storytelling (protagonist, perspective, struggle/question, emotional content, resolution, etc.), but it is told through primarily visual means – usually video. A visual story can even be made up of a single image – static visual ‘internet memes’ are common examples of this.

Well, that escalated quickly, internet meme

Digital storytelling is what happens when visual storytelling is dispersed electronically. Because we live in a digital age almost all visual stories are also digital, but they could also be a printed photograph or a billboard poster. So a visual story is not necessarily digital.

Your corporate visual storytelling strategy should pervade every point of contact that the customer has with your company. Each touchpoint, whether digital or physical, should confirm the story they believe about your brand and work to reinforce your brand identity. 

A vital part of coming up with your storytelling strategy should be to step into your customer’s shoes and take the same journey they do. When you do a ‘walk through’ of their experience, you can see exactly what they do when they visit your office and see your products/services in action.

Finding opportunities to tell your corporate story

While it’s easy to see how you can tell a visual story using TV or internet adverts, it can be difficult to think of ways to use digital storytelling in different situations – but there are many possibilities. Every point of contact is an opportunity to show your clients who you are and, with a little thought and planning, these can become some of your most valuable storytelling assets.

While all the various touch points (emails, social media, ad campaigns, images in the office, YouTube videos, etc.) should echo the central narrative about your brand, it needs a strong core to start.

While all the various touch points (emails, social media, ad campaigns, images in the office, YouTube videos, etc.) should echo the central narrative about your brand, it needs a strong core to start. This will make sure that all your various iterations and reflections of this story will be in alignment, and not contradictory in any way. With a clearly identified brand story, you can build up prominent advertising and publicity campaigns, and also powerful storytelling offensives that can include immersive events.

In practice, you need to be able to tell your corporate story in any situation. Opportunities can be unpredictable, and contact with customers can occur in situations that are not easy to fully control.

It’s one thing to bring a customer to the office - where they are greeted by friendly ‘on-message’ staff, and surrounded by brand-aligned visuals and music – but a whole other thing to keep your brand story consistent in an improvised situation. With many of us working from home, we need to project the brand identity via a Zoom call too. So let’s look at five typical scenarios where we can use digital storytelling in different situations (while keeping your corporate branding consistent) - and find some useful solutions for these scenarios.

Visual storytelling in action: 5 ways to strengthen your brand

#1 At the office

The office is your domain. You have total control here (in theory, at least). This means you can distil and concentrate your customer (and employee) experiences in a way that reflects your brand identity throughout. Perhaps a celebrity endorsement is key to your brand story – in which case this should feature here too.

The possibilities for telling your corporate story at the office are excellent; you can use powerful immersive AV technology here with incredible impact. The initial investment might seem a lot, but there are multiple returns from it if you use it well. 

Vague inspirational posters and quotes can come across as cheesy, but photographic stills from a recent advertising campaign, accompanied by the slogan (reflecting the values of your brand), look consistent and reaffirm customer confidence that you are who you say you are.

The possibilities for telling your corporate story at the office are excellent; you can use powerful immersive AV technology here with incredible impact. The initial investment might seem a lot, but there are multiple returns from it if you use it well. 

Consider the money saved when you can show clients your full product range in action – without actually producing more than a single prototype. If they can see how a different product range or display would look in one of their stores and interact with it - trying-out different arrangements to suit their tastes - you can win deals with less cost.

By involving the client directly in an interactive experience they will engage more with ideas and take ownership over their involvement. Several companies have already developed successful digital retail strategies that use exactly this kind of interaction, and it has amazing results in terms of engaging with their best retail customers. This effect is just as successful for B2B customers too. Being able to actually show clients what you can offer will help to erase doubts and speed up sales cycles. They will return to their own offices as brand evangelists, instead of feeling like they need to get approval from colleagues.

The single best option on the market right now is the Immersive Experience Room. This is a complete solution, and a fully enclosed permanent room equipped with state of the art immersive & interactive screens and 360 degree video. If you choose this solution, it is best to draw up an accessible schedule at the office to ensure it has a high utilization rate. The immersive experience room is the most powerful way to connect with clients, but also has numerous possibilities for internal presentations, and employee training and development too.

The Stream IX is another way to bring your brand story to life and it has a special niche for online presentations. It is like a mini L-shaped virtual studio that can fit into a corner. Equipped with state of the art cameras and LED screen walls, the Stream IX can help you produce slick digital stories that integrate seamlessly with your presentations and webcasts. On top of this, it can be operated by one person. You can use it as a mini customer experience centre at the office, or for real-time online meetings that involve participants in an interactive way, enabling them to see possibilities that would be impossible to explain.

Around 87% of executives are looking to change their real-estate strategy by leasing smaller office spaces.

#2 At your home

The shift to remote working from home is an ongoing trend. After being forced into this way of working (due to COVID), companies have actually found it to be a remarkably productive way to work.

Around 87% of executives are looking to change their real-estate strategy by leasing smaller office spaces. Research from McKinsey revealed that on average executives plan to reduce office space by 30%, and Unilever announced that its workers are never going to return to full time office working.

It suits many employees too. There’s a lot of variation across sectors, but for those who can work remotely, ‘hybrid working’ will be the norm.

Sure, we still need to come into the office from time to time – and it’s nice to see real people, but the office is becoming more focused in its purpose as a customer hub. However, this does mean that our online contact with clients will become a permanent thing – and so it’s a priority to be able to tell our brand story with the tools we have.

One possibility to consider is to empower staff members with ‘remote working kits’. While we can’t easily provide fully immersive visual storytelling events hosted from your living room, we can at least keep it professional-looking and with consistent brand imaging. So a company-issued background and decent lighting can go a long way to making it ‘professional looking’ with little investment. Immersive experiences are still possible using virtual reality (VR) goggles, which can be sent in advance to participants.

#3 On the road

Sometimes we need to take the message to the people. This can be a very effective way to expose people to your brand visual story by reaching out and providing something they will never forget.

You can still give potential clients the same kind of engaging and interactive experience that they could have in an Immersive Experience Room - even on the road - with an Immersive Truck. You can even cover an entire continent this way, but extra care needs to be taken with touchpoints leading them to the main event. As always, all communications and social media campaigns need to reflect the same, consistent brand story with the right visuals and imagery.

The humble trade fair is always a great place to make contact with peers and clients, and you can bring your corporate story to life with an irresistible Pop X display. This can be a window into the possibilities your company has to offer. Clients will be magnetically drawn to your compelling visual stories, and it is even easier to target specific audiences with a resonant message that relates to their own experiences.

These can be powerful storytelling opportunities, as you can interweave a more personal and focused in-person event with the wider audience and budget-friendly aspects of the online experience.

#4 Blended and Hybrid events

Blended and Hybrid events are starting to find their own space in our post-COVID era. Many people still want to enjoy an in-person experience, while others are happy to participate in an online experience or watch later on-demand.

These can be powerful storytelling opportunities, as you can interweave a more personal and focused in-person event with the wider audience and budget-friendly aspects of the online experience. While in-person attendees get the real-life experience, online attendees can enjoy some of the more interactive elements with a carefully crafted online version that can be enjoyed via their own screens, mobile or pc, or using VR goggles.

A Virtual Studio can serve as a great venue for this kind of event. You can create a professional TV (or movie) studio experience with active audience participation. The genuine emotional reactions of in-person attendees can trigger sympathetic reactions among online viewers. This has the same psychological effect as ‘canned laughter’; it is a cue that stimulates a similar reaction in viewers.

#5 In the cloud

Want to know one final trick that’ll allow you to fully tap into the power of visual storytelling? Take it to the cloud!

Cloud capabilities and storage allow you to work collaboratively with colleagues around the world. Create your visual story together and share it anywhere. Hyro’s storytelling software (developed by Purple) is fully capable of online collaborative working - it ensures your corporate stories can travel the world with the click of a button. You can turn any space or screen into a storytelling canvas - no matter where you are. 

This enables a worldwide, consistent brand story which can also easily be adapted for specific audiences.  

It’s also possible to leverage existing digital assets - from anywhere – to create complete visual stories that have enduring value.

Achieve all this with Hyro - powered by Purple

No matter how you choose to tell your corporate story digitally, you’ll find it easy with tools like Hyro’s storytelling software. It has been thoughtfully developed with visual storytelling as the main goal and is easy to use. A central feature in the design is that it’s so accessible - you don’t need to be a specialist to operate it, and you can use your in-house team without relying on external digital agencies. 

Being able to work in the cloud empowers collaboration with talented partners across the globe, and this also means your visual storytelling has a wider possible reach.

The fact that Hyro’s software can work with practically any AV setup means that you are also not limited by the hardware on site. Taking your visual story on the road is easier than ever before, whether you are using a powerful immersive experience, or something much more basic.

Jessica Endert

Head of Strategy and Concept @ Purple

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