digital-dallas-summitInspired by the Dallas Digital Summit keynote on “Brand Storytelling for Digital Natives” by Flip Caderao of The Infinite Agency, we were inspired to explore the limits to controlling your brand story.

As a marketing and branding agency, we are tasked daily with creating or furthering a story for the brands we represent. However, so often, that story is thought of as one to be consumed via TV, radio, print, outdoor, or the web. Caderao’s talk was about moving the discussion to a different medium – the mobile phone screen.

Sure, we all talk about mobile, build responsive websites, useful apps, etc., but it’s not often that we focus specifically on mobile storytelling.

Caderao’s talk started off pretty basic. It was about how social is the best medium to tell that story on mobile, and how the storytelling is, converse to the traditional, now a two-way communication of telling that story. But then the bomb was dropped.

“You do not control your brand story.”

As digital marketers, this is something we’ve always known, but I think it had a more impactful punch the way it was presented. We pride ourselves so much on our ability to tell a brand’s story, but in reality, we have very, very little control over what that story is.

Caderao presented a hierarchy of who your brand storytellers are and how to approach each of them:

1. Brand

First, is your brand. Your brand should always communicate the “why.” People don’t buy what you do, but rather why you do it.

2. Advocateshaters-fans-advocates-target

Second, are your advocates. You have to recruit influencers, inspire them to keep advocating for your brand, and reward them for doing so.

3. Fans

Third, are your fans. Your fans like your brand, and hopefully, you’ve been able to build a community around them. But these people aren’t brand advocates just yet. Give these people props when they do talk about your brand, and hopefully, you can convert them into advocates.

4. Haters

Finally, there are your haters. Your haters will always be there, no matter the industry in which your brand exists. However, you really need to listen to these people and heed the things they are saying about your product, even if you don’t want to hear it. Engage with them, and make them like you.

In order to fulfill all of this, brands need to figure out how to tell the story from the middle.

Traditionally, stories have a beginning, middle, and end. But, with social, your brand is constantly having to keep up. You should be telling your story from the middle, in the “right now.” There is never an end.

Finally, brands need to know which kinds of stories to tell. Tell a story that is inspiring, entertaining, or trending. Tell stories of how your brand cares, and most importantly be human.

How does your brand care for its customers?