An Epic Year in Storytelling: 7 Brand Stories that Resonated with Us
From Super Bowl commercials to billboard ads, 2018 has seen a number of brands coming up with creative ways to tell good stories. Some of them did it exceptionally well.
We are excited to announce the first round of leaders who will bring our 2020 theme HUMAN.X to life at the Broad stage this June (17-18).
With countless push alerts, newsletters and news feeds dominating our screen the second we wake up, only an extremely small number of content truly make our thumps stop. Lying at the core of a piece of quality content is the ability to narrative a great story to engage the audience.
It’s estimated that in 2019, there will be around 2.77 billion social media users around the world, and the number is ever-increasing. With social media’s mass influence, all brands are tempted to capture the hearts of people with an impactful campaign.
As stories, not only as a platform but as a narrative, become more dominating, being able to deliver powerful stories ties in closely with a brand’s ability to achieve success.
Here, we look back on the social media campaigns that have dominated our screens for the past year, dissecting what have been the most powerful examples of storytelling, and how these brands managed to deliver it.
Intuit, A Giant Story
Being able to navigate through complicated work documents, have a successful business and enjoy life after work with someone you love…how great does that sound? All these ideal life scenarios are captured in Intuit’s four-minute long animation, “A Giant Story.”
This Silicon Valley software company partnered with an animation team to create a story of a flower shop owner who struggled with work-life balance but eventually sorted everything out with the help of a giant robot. The robot symbolizes the way Intuit taps into the complicated network of data using advanced technologies.
The flower shop owner has an image that appeals to Intuit’s audience, in that a lot of the brand’s target audience want to better manage their businesses and money. By humanizing the brand using a straightforward and engaging video story, Intuit is able to present itself as a brand that is helpful and approachable.
National Geographic, Your Shot
National Geographic is known as being the #1 brand on social — for a reason. The brand makes an effort to engage with their community by encouraging UGC (User Generated Content) and regularly showcasing them through social.
One of Nat Geo’s subchannels, Your Shot, is the best example of the brand’s devotion to community engagement. Every day, this Instagram account curates and publishes photos from user submissions around the world, alongside with comments from Nat Geo’s editors. Some of the photos come with stories of where and how the shot was made, adding emotions and value to the still pictures.
As a community that has existed for 13 years, Your Shot prides itself in the ability to tell stories collaboratively with Nat Geo’s very own photographers, while harboring a community where members share and learn from each other. To date, Nat Geo’s Your Shot has become a space where quality, personal storytelling is encouraged and valued.
General Electric, Together We Work
As an established brand that started more than 130 years ago, it’s amazing how good the brand is becoming on social media — especially on video. Earlier in the year, General Electric launched Together We Work, a video series that showcases the work and stories of GE employees from all over the globe.
The series is powerful in two ways. First, it educates the public with the fact that GE is so much more than a company that manufactures home appliances, that it invests in technological innovations like 3D printing and drones. Second, it uses its own employees as advocates for the brand. The series is full of GE’s amazing employees stories of how they add value and give back to the community through work. With these relatable, real-life human-interest stories, GE finds a way to connect to all audience easily.
At the beginning of the year, LinkedIn launched a social media campaign titled #InItTogether, featuring professionals from various fields answering question on “what are you in it for?” In the form of videos, posts, tweets, etc., while the public reacts with what motivates them forward in their careers.
Its video ad campaign featuring dozens of professionals creates a compelling narrative where the focus is no longer about the site’ capabilities in connecting people, but how LinkedIn users can help each other out by being in the community and network together. This certainly fosters a sense of community where the audience is encouraged to feel more attached and loyal to the site, and take up the initiative to support each other.
Wealthsimple, Investing for Humans
What’s in your mind when you are asked about money? The answer can be drastically different depending on whom you ask. Wealthsimple, an online investment management service that focuses on making “investing easier for millennials, turned people’s reaction on this question into a video campaign.
In their Investing for Human video, people revealed their truest emotions talking about personal finances — some contemplative, some silent and some visibly upset. What’s smart about this video is that it does not look like an ad at all, because nothing about the company is mentioned. However, every element in this video draws the audience into an initial interest in the brand’s money products.
Stories are most powerful when they are about human and feels authentic. Since Wealthsimple has a target demographic of 20 something millennials, this approach proves to be simple yet effective to live on social media.
Burger King, Whopper Neutrality
Remember the Net Neutrality repeal that frightened every one this year? Burger King had something to say about it — through a Whopper.
The burger chain did a social experiment in which they compared the Net Neutrality repeal to the selling of a Whopper burger. In the video, customers were angry, upset and confused about the way they chose to sell burgers. “This effort aims to help people understand how the repeal of Net Neutrality will impact their lives. The Burger King brand believes the Internet should be like the Whopper sandwich: the same for everyone,” writes Burger King.
As a brand, choosing to take a stand on political issues can have unexpected consequences, but those that choose to do it will for sure attract like-minded audience. By sharing the story of selling a burger in an almost ridiculous way, Burger King not only stands up for equality, but probably more importantly, sells some Whoppers.
What makes a storytelling experience even better? When it’s immersive.
To promote the launch of its cutting-edge running shoes, Epic React, Nike developed and installed an immersive, game-like experience where runner can transfer themselves into a game character on a big screen, who moves forward in the game backdrop as they run on a treadmill.
A powerful story has a pace or a plot that moves itself forward and keeps the audience engaged. And by gamifying an experience, the audience themselves are transferred into the central piece of the experience and tasked with moving themselves along. And since it’s easy to get addicted to game, why not do it in a healthy way like running?
All these powerful storytelling strategies we’ve seen from 2018 have something in common — they center on the human-interest aspect of the stories, stay authentic to the brand’s core value, and try to give back to the world in their own ways. After all, these are also the key elements that help a brand stay in the market. We hope their success can shed some light on how you can enhance your brand’s storytelling in the new year.
The importance of storytelling is why we are devoting Social Media Week’s new year to diving into “STORIES,” our 2019 global theme. Kicking off in April, Social Media Week New York brings together professionals from media, marketing and technology to share insights on how you can make the best out of a story. Your last chance to get 25% off #SMWNYC passes purchase ends this Friday, so secure your seat today before the deal expires!
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