Stories are part of human nature. They are powerful tools that help us pass information and connect with one another. They’re used all over the world by people of all ages. In fact, numerous studies show that our brains are more stimulated by stories than hard data.
As a marketer and event planner, you can use carefully crafted narratives to draw people to your events and give them powerful experiences. In this article, we’d like to explain brand narratives and why you should use them to create engaging events.
What Is a Brand Narrative?
As marketing guru Seth Godin says, “People do not buy goods and services. They buy relations, stories and magic.”
A brand narrative is the story you tell that helps your customers and followers connect emotionally with your brand. It humanizes your brand and gives it personality so your business doesn’t feel cold and corporate. A clever narrative is a powerful way to make people feel comfortable interacting with your brand.
Brand narratives entertain. Compelling stories with enticing journeys, full characters (including villains!), difficult challenges, and relatable moments keep people engaged.
Brand narratives educate. A good story imbues people with knowledge and wisdom. Each person should be better in some way after experiencing the story. Good stories focus on that better version of each person, not products and services.
Brand narratives inspire. Good stories drive people to take action. They should want to do something with their newfound wisdom. You might inspire them to solve a problem for themselves or someone else, or take action to better themselves.As an event planner, use carefully crafted narratives to draw people to your events and give them powerful experiences. Click To Tweet
Brand narratives also help you make decisions. For example, if your narrative revolves around environmentalism and sustainable living, it wouldn’t serve your story to purchase wasteful and disposable products for your event. Instead, you would find ways to source goods from local companies that mirror your values.
Not all businesses need a brand narrative. In some cases, it’s fine to have a purely transactional relationship with your customers. The hot dog vendor at the park doesn’t need a compelling story. He just needs a good product at a fair price in the right place.
But if you’re throwing events for your business (or your clients’ businesses), you probably have a brand narrative. If you don’t have a story, creating one can help you differentiate yourself in a competitive market. Having a clear idea of what you stand for and how you should behave makes it much easier for your guests to understand and connect with you.
Rules of a Brand Narrative
Telling a story through your event is similar to telling a traditional story. You can help people connect with the story by giving them the typical elements they expect. Here are a few rules to follow when crafting a brand narrative.
1. Establish a Protagonist
Every story needs a protagonist. In most cases, the protagonist of your brand narrative is your customer. If you’re hosting an event, the “customers” are your guests. Your protagonist can be individuals or a whole group.
2. Present the Antagonist
Just like every story needs a protagonist, it also needs at least one antagonist – the villain. The antagonist can be a specific person. For instance, an event for private car dealers could present the “big corporate dealership” as the antagonist. Or the antagonist could be a concept, like “debt” or “unemployment.”
3. Create Friction
Stories are full of obstacles for the protagonists to overcome. Identify and stoke the pain points created by the antagonist. For instance, unemployment (an antagonist) causes stress, depression, and make you feel like you lack purpose.
It’s important that your audience can relate to the pain points you target in a natural way. For example, if you throw an event for aspiring bloggers, you could lean on their fear of working a traditional job or relying on other people for income. Those are reasonable pain points that might make someone interested in a career in blogging.
That said, don’t hype your protagonists’ problems in an unreasonable way. For instance, woodworkers know the pain of working in a messy workshop, but they’ll have a hard time trusting you if you present dust and clutter as the next social pandemic.
4. Introduce the Advisor
The greatest stories involve a trusted advisor – an old friend, counselor, or sage who either has the answers or who can set the protagonist on the path to find them. This is where your brand comes in. Your brand is the advisor who can help the protagonist defeat the antagonist.
5. Call Them to Action
In traditional storytelling, the call to arms is when the hero(es) decide to take the fight to the antagonist. It’s a critical moment that drives the story toward its climax and conclusion. This is when you – and your speakers – implore your guests to use what they learned at your event to take action. Often this includes pushing them to use the tools you offer (your products and services) to accomplish their goals.
Brand Narratives and Events
A good brand narrative keeps people hooked to your event. It helps them invest themselves emotionally with your brand. If your story speaks to them, they’ll eventually come to see themselves as part of the story.
Creating meaningful connections with people through your website or Facebook profile is tough. But events are prime opportunities to interact directly with your audience and make them feel like they’re part of the story.
Look for ways to build your narrative into every aspect of your event – from the moment they see the first Facebook ad or Twitter post, through event registration, and (most importantly) in the event space. Seamlessly weaving your narrative into the entire experience is key to reinforcing your story and your guests’ place in it.
It helps to write your story out on paper before your event so you – and anyone else on your team – understands it. If you have created guest personas (sometimes called audience personas or buyer personas), you may already have this information. Then whenever you need to make an event planning decision, you can turn to your brand narrative for inspiration.
For instance, hire speakers and presenters who will teach topics that help your guests defeat their problems. You could even ask your speakers to touch on the same theme or repeat the same story elements throughout their presentations so there’s a cohesive narrative.
Even the lighting, furniture, music, and decor can be used to support your narrative. Peaceful music and gentle colors could support a journey of self-discovery and personal satisfaction, while upbeat music and vibrant colors could support a story of empowerment and determination.
Your values are a good place to find inspiration for ways to incorporate your brand narrative into your event. Here are some examples:
- If you value exploration and discovery, create a menu with exotic dishes your guests have probably never experienced before.
- If you value minimalism and efficiency, use an open industrial space for your event and fill it with sleek furniture.
- If you value connectivity and technology, fill your event space with tech, like iBeacons, interactive devices, and gadget demonstrations.
The Power of Stories
If you aren’t considering your brand narrative when you plan events, you’re missing out on a powerful tool to build personal connections with your guests. People love stories, so use them to engage your guests, create memories, and support your brand’s goals.