Content offers a new approach to storytelling. It transcends the concept of having a big idea as in its longest form, it can serve as a North Star articulation for everything the brand says, does and importantly, believes.
Marketers will stop approaching the world from a perspective of ad executions or campaigns and instead find new and inspirational ways to tell their brand story with content. This content will be digitally led, and often long form but created in a way that sparks a multitude of creative assets that can be customised to Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, etc. and that allows a fragmented audience to decide what they "let in", share and reject.
For Millennials and Gen Z, the digital ecosystem is becoming an environment where cohesive brand stories are being told. It is unlike anything that older generations who watch TV and read magazines have seen before in that it is synchronised, sequenced, snackable and sharable.
So why brand stories?
According to analysis of Kantar Millward Brown's Link® database, content that tells stories is proven to achieve better results. Kantar Millward Brown's analysis found that videos that told a story, versus those with no story, vastly outperformed in terms of expressiveness (the ability of the ad to elicit an Â© Kantar Millward Brown emotional response as measured by facial coding) and their ability to elicit the active involvement of the viewer.
The findings of the Link meta-analysis are bolstered by neuroscience. According to research by Dr. Paul Zak, a professor and researcher at Claremont Graduate University, character driven narratives, with the requisite narrative arc, shot on video, can cause the brain to produce oxytocin, the neurochemical also responsible for bonding, kindness and empathy. This emotional response to a well-crafted narrative is then encoded into long-term memory via association.
The potential of content and leveraging it for the purposes of storytelling often gets lost in the quagmire of defining what it is – sponsored content, native content, branded content, user generated, Facebook feeds, etc. – when at its core it is about finding a way to make people care about the brand.
Great storytelling is not a vanity exercise; it must be harnessed for the purpose of the brand. "Branding" in a world of content is different. It is subtle and it can even be stealth. Since content is about telling stories that people want to receive and potentially share, the brand does not have to shout to be heard. Instead, it can be the bearer of this great gift of content.
In 2018, advertisers will start with the story and from there have great content to fit to the format.
Tips for Marketers
Great content development requires a different approach. We need to walk away from legacy decision making and outdated TV-led processes. Content can be king if you invest in the story and then adapt.
Managing Partner, Creative Development Practice
Kantar Millward Brown