This has become the buzzword de jour. Every copywriter worth their salt adds this skill to their CV, but it's something a lot of brands don't understand.
The truth is, it's a term that isn't widely understood client-side. Some marketing departments get it, but that's about as far as it gets. So why bother with it?
Did you snort tea through your nose at the Smash aliens, being Tango'd or Belly's Gonna Get You? Did Ladysmith Black Mambazo make you cry over Heinz ketchup? Do the words 'you have an ology, you're a scientist' and 'have this cheerful sole, madam' still chime your head? Really showing my age, aren't I?
The reason you remember these adverts is because they told a story that triggered an emotion in your amygdala. And this is what made you love that brand.
Ever since Tesco ditched Prunella Scales, I can't recall a single Tesco advert. I couldn't even tell you, with any conviction whether they still make them. BT lost the sass queen of Maureen Lipman and replaced it with ads showing their routers, big whoop.
And what makes people invest in that short two to three-minute clip? It's the story. You were enthralled by the prank show format of Tango, eagerly anticipating what was going to happen next and laughed at what is now a hate crime.
A good story has a beginning, a middle and a conclusion. And this is should run through every bit of copy we write and all content we produce.
The difference is how you do it.
When putting together a storyboard, first think:
- What's your product or service - what problem does it solve, what's its benefit or if you took it away, what problem would it cause?
- The brand position - a premium, romantic brand like Kenco or a disruptive brand like Paddy Power.
- Profile your customers - who are they and what do they value?
- Get emotional - is it about the family, having a good time or aspirational?
Once you've figured these out, you've got the start of your story. Let's take a brand like Spotify.
What: carry your entire music collection around with you, even the stuff you perhaps wouldn't buy. And discover new and the latest tracks from global artists.
Brand: cool, digital startup, cutting edge, innovative and youthful.
Who: inclusive, there's a free service with ads and a premium service that unlocks extra features and is ad-free. Spans all demographics, but highest take-up is with 20 to 45s.
Emotional: listen to break-up music when you're sad. Get a party going with friends. Belt out a karaoke classic in the car. Block out the world on your commute.
Hey presto, a story is already starting to take shape. I can see it. I might illustrate it through interpretive dance.