Storytelling Diversity

I’ve been thinking lately about diverse storytelling and diverse storytelling as a part of brand strategy. We talk about storytelling quite a bit as marketers, but diversity in storytelling can be a compelling and important compliment to the brand story. Your story isn’t just about communicating the essentials, it’s really about community and diversity of perspective and thought, an expanding process that builds depth to your brand.

In my work for Middlesex County, for example, we have a central brand story that acts as the basis around which other related narratives are produced. The work has ended up creating something of a collection of unique but related tales, a kind of frame narrative made up of a hundred other unique stories—all compelling, all one-of-a-kind, yet all tied and aligned to the same brand foundation. If you’re curious, you can see some of these stories on Middlesex County’s YouTube channel, where you can hear from scientists, educators, voters, administrators and other locals on their take on life in Middlesex County.

So what allows us to produce all this great content, and what are the necessities for beginning this process of storytelling diversity? Here are four things needed for a single narrative to be included in our world of aligned stories.

Emotion

In a study done in 2015, researchers detailed the central importance of emotion in branding, and the success that marketing campaigns had when they used emotion appropriately. What they concluded was interesting—basically that authenticity and connection really do work. Read the study and you’ll see that consumers are instantly turned off by inauthentic product pitches and yet reeled in again and again by genuineness. The more you know your audience and what they want, the more you appeal to their emotions in a real way, the more powerful your story. 

Diversity

Diversity can be central to storytelling around brand, because it is important in all aspects of our lives. What matters regarding branding is diversity in outlook. If you have a colorful, diverse cast of speakers, are they saying interesting things that add appreciably to the conversation? Don’t tokenize people just for appearances, make sure their contributed stories have breadth, depth, inspiration, and can hold the interest of your viewing audience.

And, of course, be sure each story’s contribution is aligned with and rooted in your basic brand story.

Quality 

Excitement. Engagement. Inspiration. Emotion. Alignment. Does your story have these qualities? In other words, is it a compelling piece of storytelling that people can’t help but listen to with rapt attention? If not, take the time to redraft it. If it can’t be done, abandon it for the time being—maybe you’ll be able to add something later that makes it compelling.

Alignment

The all-important factor: alignment. You may have all the elements above—emotion, diversity, quality—but if the story is not aligned with your brand’s basic proposition, then it’s a no-go. At the heart of your brand is your story, and flowering around the edges are other perspectives, which must feel as if they really belong, are really connected organically. But if the person’s perspective isn’t aligned, then it just isn’t part of your brand’s story.

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