Purpose Storytelling: A blueprint for building a connection between your audience and your brand
- Being a purpose-driven business is not just good for the world, it’s a competitive advantage.
- Purpose-driven companies are more appealing to customers and employees.
- Clearly and simply communicating your purpose is vital.
- Even if you have a niche audience, your purpose statement should feel universal.
- Storytelling is one of the most effective ways to build an emotional connection with your audience.
- Empathy is the key to effective storytelling.
- Purpose Storytelling means using storytelling techniques to connect your audience with your brand’s purpose.
- Success in Purpose Storytelling doesn’t happen by accident, you need a clear Impact Strategy.
- Purpose storytelling needs to be fact-driven. A genuine understanding of your audience’s wants and needs is vital to building real connections to your brand.
The following article is based on a talk that Prodigium Pictures’ co-founders, Tobias Deml and Hiroki Kamada, and Ava’s (www.ava.me) CEO Thibault Duchemin recently gave on Purpose Storytelling for Wework’s Labs for Good.
Why is Purpose Important?
“Today, employees want to do more than just sell cars, and today’s consumers want to buy more than a car.” -Kantar Consulting
Replace “car” with almost any product or service (a burger, a shoe, an app, etc.) and this sentiment holds up.
People want purpose. They want to feel connected to a greater goal or movement, and they want to support brands who are using their resources to make a positive social impact. Don’t believe us? There’s data to back this up.
What is your “purpose”? Purpose means having a goal beyond the financial benefit of your company. Purpose means doing work to benefit the greater human enterprise, and the health of people’s minds, bodies, and work environments. A purpose is more than just a mission statement, it’s a specific social or environmental impact that is central to your product or service.
So what is purpose storytelling?
In this article, we’ll be focusing on how you can use storytelling, particularly video storytelling, to communicate your purpose in the context of marketing. We will begin with the basics, and then later in the article we’ll delve deeper into a case study of Prodigium Pictures’ video collaboration with Ava, an app that captions speech for deaf and hard of hearing individuals.
Clearly Articulating Your Purpose
Your purpose should be something clear and specific. If your explanation of your purpose is too long or confusing, people won’t even remember it. Also, if your purpose is too vague or unclear, it can be more easily be diluted or undermined.
In a marketing context, you want to articulate your purpose in a way that emotionally resonates with a wide audience. Even if you serve a niche market, having a more universal purpose can help spread awareness of your work, and expand your reach to other countries, cultures, cities, etc.
For example, here’s Ava’s purpose statement from their website: “We want to radically improve how we humans communicate with each other. Our core mission at Ava is to empower 466M deaf and hard-of-hearing people to live in a fully accessible world.”
While part of their purpose is to serve a specific group (deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals), their purpose statement contains a universal message about the human experience.
Evolving Your Purpose
To be clear, your purpose is not set in stone. It can grow and evolve. However, it has to evolve slowly and deliberately.
For example, say you start a company, and you have a set purpose right off the bat. However, after a few years, you grow as a person, your company grows, and the original purpose doesn’t serve you very well anymore. The reasons why you started the company are still there, you’ve just evolved, the company evolved, and your purpose has to evolve with it. The secret is to continually evaluate your purpose, and slowly and steadily improve it while keeping it simple and universally applicable.
Marketing Video Basics
Call to Action
When you make a marketing video, or any advertisement, you want it to contain a specific call to action for your audience (ex. you want them to download your app, sign up for your website, make a pledge, attend an event, etc.).
Once you’ve specified your call to action, you can start building a campaign to mobilize people around that call to action.
Components of a Powerful Story
In the graphic above, you can see the basic components of a powerful story: Narrative & Plot, Characters, and Empathy & Identification. When all of these components are in alignment, viewers will feel engaged on an emotional level. At Prodigium, we always say we want to “turn facts into feelings.” Communicating facts is important, but it’s emotional connections (particularly positive emotional connections) that inspire people to take action and support your company’s purpose. The biggest task we are faced with when making a marketing video for a company figuring out how to turn all the information we have about their work, their audience, and their purpose into an emotional experience that feels authentic and personal. When people see themselves in your story’s characters, or can at least empathize with them, they will connect to your brand on a level that facts alone cannot achieve.
Purpose storytelling is different from other forms of storytelling because it ties these emotional connections with your audience to your company’s purpose. In purpose storytelling, you have to center all your story’s elements around your company, your brand, and how your product or service improves people’s lives. In doing so, you can use your story to strategically achieve your purpose.
Success in purpose storytelling doesn’t happen by mistake, it comes from informed planning and deliberate execution of ideas. This strategic plan for getting viewers to connect to your purpose is called your Impact Strategy.
To build a successful narrative for your marketing campaign, you have to relate your purpose to the problems your viewers care about, and the realistic situations in which they would use your product or service. It’s great if you have lots of creative ideas for your story, but you have to make sure they are rooted in real information about your audience’s wants and needs. If you authentically relate to your audience, your call to action will be stronger. In marketing, authenticity breeds empathy, and empathy motivates action.
In order to get people to connect to your product, your need to show a tangible positive impact your product can have on their lives. One of the best ways to do this is to incorporate your product or service into your character’s narrative. The exact narrative can change depending on the target of your campaign, but it should always tie back to your purpose. Think of your purpose like a sun, and your individual campaigns are like planets, orbiting around it. Campaigns should always reference back to your purpose, but they should be more than just an in-your-face, straightforward explanation of who you are and what you do. A balance of entertaining storytelling and information is key.
Also, as you build your strategy, don’t abandon the data and knowledge that you have about people you are trying to reach. This approach is called fact-driven creativity. A lot of advertising looks glossy and cool, but doesn’t really inspire an audience to follow a call to action or connect with a brand. What seems like a fun idea doesn’t always translate to effective marketing, unless it is backed by real information.
The Competitive Advantage of Purpose:
Making an impact and making money are not mutually exclusive. In general, the most long-term successful businesses are those that make a tangible impact in people’s lives. You will make a much better case to investors if you can get your purpose to resonate with them. You will also attract the best talent to work for your company in the process, because employees will know they are part of something greater. Being purpose-driven, and being able to communicate your company’s purpose is a competitive advantage.
At Prodigium Pictures, we are always having conversations about our purpose, and what we need to do to live up to it. Sometimes, this means turning down certain opportunities that could lead to short term gain, but don’t align with our values, or prioritizing projects that have a huge potential impact, but may not be particularly lucrative in the short term. At the end of the day, we concentrate our energy on the things we really care about. In our experience, prioritizing social impact has led to some of our best business opportunities and creative collaborations of our careers.
When you genuinely move people, real success will follow.
Ava Case Study
In 2016, Ava was faced with a daunting task: Launching their first product – an app-based software that would connect the deaf and hearing worlds.
After considering major production companies who specialize in launching products, the Ava leadership decided to put their trust in Prodigium Pictures because of our social impact expertise in entertainment. We created a launch video for them that went viral, garnering 1 Million views within 3 days. Watch the final video below, and then click here to learn more about the strategy and process behind it.
We also made an updated version of the video for a new Ava product launch in 2020, which used many clips from the original 2016 video. Check out that updates video below:
Also, check out our FREE Launch Video Impact Guide, to learn more strategies for effective video marketing: https://prodigium-pictures.com/launch-video-impact-guide/