Storytelling in Ad Creatives – Why, What & How to use it to Win It?

Table of Contents  

We Bharat Mavens firmly believe in this philosophy,

“Consumers have more options than ever today, stats indicate loyalty towards brands fleeting among consumers. There is a need for a way to associate consumers with brands beyond products, via a story-narrative. 

One crafted with purposeful storytelling, where customers feel part of the brand’s ambassadors to make the world a better place

In the current market, Product is commoditized we create differentiation with storytelling and drive profitable growth with performance”

So, how do you use storytelling in ad creatives?

Contents

  1. Define what storytelling in ad creatives is
  2. Why it matters?
  3. Understanding audience
  4. Elements of a Compelling Story
  5. Types of Storytelling in ad creatives
  6. How to use it in your brand?
  7. Common Pitfalls

Definition

From ChatGPT

“Storytelling in ad creatives is the strategic use of narrative elements, such as characters, plot, emotions, and conflict, to communicate a brand’s message, connect with the audience on a deeper level, and evoke specific emotional responses. It involves crafting compelling stories within advertisements to engage, captivate, and ultimately influence consumer behavior.”

But I understand it this way

When a new viewer of an ad feels an association with it beyond the product advertised and the ad compels them to share it in their network this marks a true win for an ad. You know an ad creative has a storytelling element when the takeaway message from ad is not just a product, but a new narrative or reaffirmation of beliefs, and the brand becomes a medium of communication of the customer’s message to the world.

Now because the business says it, customers associate the “narrative” to the business, and hence businesses become brands 

Let’s consider Steven Jobs using this 
Apple in one way tells a story of having a unique creator identity, a story to create something memorable for the world.

Hence, Apple is associated with creation/innovation

Why it matters?

What’s wrong with normal ad creatives? 

Currently, customers are spoilt for choice. In each segment, customers have innumerable options to choose and studies repeatedly  indicate loyalty among audiences decreasing. Customer acquired via an ad with a story is more loyal as they feel as they are part of a narrative to which the brand has given a voice.
In the current market Product is largely commoditized, businesses should create differentiation with storytelling and drive profitable growth 

Audience Understanding

The major mistake in storytelling in ads is focusing inward, on your company, what you stand for….
No, focus outward say stories customers deeply want to hear that relate to the product you sell and all this comes from understanding the audience 

It is largely studied as knowing the age, gender, demographic and interests of the audience. Sometimes pains, goals, and desires, this isn’t even scratching the surface. You can only create a story when nuances from audiences are picked up that make it memorable

Big Idea is in Small Nuances of Audience Understanding

Here is a framework to use 

  1. What triggers customer to start their buying journey (of product you sell)?
  2. What are the pains that solutions in the market aren’t able to solve?
  3. What are the problems the industry has currently?
  4. What is the growing trend within the industry?
  5. What are the reasons (aka Job to be Done) for customer with the product?

These questions are a starting point and each can be used to create a different story

For instance, a story crafted around the trigger points of the buying journey

Looking into the mirror and shouting at the first sign of Acne (trigger point) 

When a brand tries to initiate conversion with the audience it loses, when it starts communication it wins

Elements of a Compelling Story

A good story-creative has the following

  1. A single strong category-emotion Every category has a single strong emotion. Skincare has hope, and sports goods has adventure/competitiveness. So, find the strongest emotion in your category Creative should evoke this emotion among the audience as it is natural to the category, (read: easiest to evoke)
  2. Small nuance captured A story becomes memorable when it captures small nuances of customer’s life that they instantly resonate with and find it valuable  
  3. Fresh perspective Saying like rest wins you consensus, but not memorability Your story must have a fresh perspective of looking at same episode or fully fresh thing It can come from – Calling out a common enemy prevalent in the category – Reflecting on what’s actually good for people – Visually show a new perspective
  4. Conflict Not a physical one, but a mental conflict Conflict arises from having a bold position about something, if you are scared of being bold, then people cannot distinguish your brand from others Conflict unites people, it shouldn’t just segment into believers or non-believers, but all can be one fighting a bad thing in category But first, Choose to have a strong view on something
  5. Relevance It’s not all about being different A study on new product innovations was conducted where it was found Products that are entirely new are less likely to be adopted by the masses, instead one that had relevance to the current solution while adding something fresh increases the probability of the winning

Types of Storytelling in ad creatives

There are plenty of ways, but here are the most common

  1. Visual Still images and no-audio videos tell powerful stories There is no particular restriction on which niche can use it or not, it is up to the creativity of the user
  2. Copy-based Words hold the power to change the mindset, mindset changes actions and hence affects outcomes You can have a long copy to explain the idea, but give users small phrases or short sentences so they become part of the culture and shared idea
  3. Mystery If you are a fan of thriller movies, what keeps you edge of your seat? It’s the thrill, right? So, consider using it in your ads by adding a mystery element – Mystery character – Mystery box – Mystery gift
  4. Topical The day Nadal won the 24th Grand Slam Nike released a video, it tells a beautiful story without any humans just numbers and audio (Check on YouTube) So, if your brand can be associated with a bigger contemporary phenomenon then create ads to highlight that with storytelling 

Common Pitfalls

  1. Lack of Authenticity: Authenticity is crucial in storytelling. If your story feels contrived or inauthentic, it can lead to a loss of trust from your audience. 
  2. Un-Relatable – Pick scenes from the world that your audience experiences every day to come up with a narrative, don’t make it far-fetched that the audience feels they never can get there
  3. Length of the story doesn’t matter – People get bored even with 30-second video and they might end up watching a 3-hour movie non-stop. It is the power of storytelling you need to focus on than the length 
  4. Clear stories sell better than clever stories – The best movies aren’t clever crime thrillers but clear stories, this doesn’t mean thrillers are bad, but the TAM is smaller

Every company/brand you see today was made possible as a founder or a team believed in a story of the existence of such a product/service 

So, you should drive your marketing efforts with stories

………..

Thank you for reading 

If you have any questions you can reach out via LinkedIn