10 mistakes in branded storytelling

Summary What are the most typical mistakes you can run into when building a storytelling campaign? In this post, we’ll look at the top 10…

Branded storytelling mistakes
Marketing Team
Content Marketing 10 mistakes in branded storytelling


What are the most typical mistakes you can run into when building a storytelling campaign? In this post, we’ll look at the top 10 mistakes in branded storytelling:

1) Overdoing it with originality.

2) Imitating the successful campaigns of others.

3) Building one-to-many messages without assessing the specifics of the target audience.

4) Get the timing of campaigns wrong.

5) Choosing the wrong media for getting the messages across.

6) Get distribution channels wrong.

7) Telling stories that are too abstract or generic.

8) Telling stories that are weighed down by excessive details.

9) Aiming solely and exclusively at sales.

10) Not measuring the results of campaigns; and not continually recalibrating them.

Storytelling is a weapon

Telling stories is the most effective weapon for marketing and communication. But first, you have to find your own voice, one that is authentic, recognizable, consistent, but also intimate.

So, you have to get the right message across through the right channels, with the right tools (especially digital ones).

Finally, the central point: you have to know how to reach the right audience. Because there is no such thing as the perfect story for all situations and all recipients: there are only stories that are more or less effective, depending on those who receive them, who listen to them, who identify with them.

In this post from our blog, we focused on the importance of storytelling for any type of business and we analyzed the main tools that Digital Transformation has made available to marketers, to tell stories in a way that is increasingly effective and tailored to the customer.

In another post, we focused on 5 best practices for building your storytelling strategy.

Now, we’re going to focus on the opposite: we’ve isolated the 10 most typical and common mistakes in branded storytelling. Because it’s from mistakes (ours or those of others) that we can learn and continuously improve.

So, here they are, the mistakes in branded storytelling that brands must avoid in order to be successful:

1. Be original at all costs

Finding your own unique and recognizable tone of voice is fundamental for any good storytelling campaign. But don’t overdo it. Originality is important, but it’s a weapon to be handled with surgical care. Trying to be “unique” at all costs, trying to be different from everything that has been done, risks relegating you to a small and self-referential niche. And this is never a good idea for a business.

So, try to be original, but also very communicative and open. Find your own voice, authentic and personal, but also learn from the best.

2. Imitate the best

We concluded the previous point with a very clear piece of advice: learn from the best. In this point, however, we introduce a delicate contraindication. Learning, drawing inspiration, is very different from imitating.

If you don’t have the means of a company like Apple, Nike, or Coca-Cola, there’s no point in trying to put campaigns on track that “sound” like theirs.

What’s more, it’s counterproductive. You will give the idea of being a beginner and an amateur. And people always prefer the original to the copy.

So, what to do?

Analyze the campaigns of the best. Understand why they work. In short, identify the reasons for these successes. And then try to apply them to your own products or services, to the means you have available, but above all to your audience.

3. Think in one-to-many terms

We’ve pointed this out before: there’s no such thing as the perfect story for everyone. But there are stories that are perfectly effective for the right audience. To put it in another way: successful storytelling depends on brands’ ability to identify the right target audience.

The step that needs to be taken is from a one-to-many perspective to a one-to-one perspective. So, the first step is to learn about your audience. Today, in the digital era in which we are all immersed, this is made possible by Big Data analysis.

The second step is the following: after collecting all this information about your actual and potential customers, you move on to target segmentation, dividing the audience into increasingly specific clusters, made up of people with homogeneous characteristics and behaviors.

Finally, the final step is towards personalization. Therefore, building a truly one-to-one, user-oriented storytelling.

Today it is possible, with specific tools offered by specialized companies such as Babelee. One example? The Babelee personalized video platform.

4. Getting the timing wrong

A storytelling campaign always fits into a specific space and time. This should never be forgotten. And it applies to both small and large companies.

And by that we mean: first and foremost, you need to be careful about the time of day, week, month, and year in which you deploy your marketing campaigns.

If your industry is food, for example, it doesn’t make much sense to post your top video on social media in the afternoon.

Similarly, if you have a chain of hotels on the beach, it’s pointless to concentrate your efforts on a communication campaign in November (unless there is a good reason to do so, of course).

Beware, however, that there may be fluctuations in public sentiment that are unpredictable. We’re talking about unexpected events that could happen over the short or long term (just think of the pandemic that has disrupted all our lives), or news stories that capture the collective attention.

5. Using the wrong mediums

Digital has multiplied the means through which brands can communicate their messages and tell their stories. It would be a big mistake to think of all of these media as the same or as interchangeable.

There are texts, images, visuals, gifs, and banners of various types. There is audio, which has grown in popularity and effectiveness over the last period, especially thanks to the rise of the podcast ecosystem.

Above all, however, there’s one medium that trumps all others in terms of its effectiveness and ability to grab users’ attention: we’re talking about video.

(We won’t dwell on the effectiveness of video here. Take a look at this post on our blog to learn more)

6. The wrong channels

This point follows the previous one, but gets specific. In addition to being careful about the mediums used to convey their campaigns, brands must also carefully evaluate the channels through which they are distributed.

Even in this case, Digital Transformation has had the effect of a multiplier.

There are huge differences between a storytelling campaign conducted in a general newspaper, in a trade magazine, on a dedicated app, or on social networks. And, even in the latter case, each social network has its own specificities: what works on Facebook might not work on Instagram. And what works on Instagram might not work on TikTok.

These are just a few examples of a truly vast and central theme. The perspective to adopt, in this sense, is very clear: aim at omnichannel. Therefore, developing your storytelling strategies according to the channels where they are best suited. And simultaneously staying coherent and recognizable.

7. Being too general

This is another important issue.

Effective narratives are always very concrete narratives. The big themes, ideas, theories, the company’s mission and vision need to be set within specific, individual stories that are easy to grasp, that feel “close,” and with which people can empathize.

Only in this way will they make an impression in the mind of the listener

8. Getting lost in too many details

This point mirrors the one above. Avoid being abstract, professorial, or know-it-all. Be concrete. Look for fresh takes. But also remember not to get lost in a myriad of details.

Attention is a precious commodity, especially in this day and age when we are all continually bombarded by a flood of stimuli coming at us from the most diverse devices and channels.

You have to keep all this in mind and build your narratives around a central core. A good story must start from point A and get to point B – sure, some deviation from the main thread is helpful and healthy – but be careful not to lose your way and tangle your message too much! Otherwise, you risk losing touch with your listener.

If you need to delve into specific aspects, aim instead at a call to action, so that those who want to know more can do so.

9. Everything right away

Another typical mistake you can make is the temptation to get everything and everything now. Storytelling is one of the best weapons for selling products or services.

But it is better to be gradual.

Aim first to create a connection with your customer. Involve them in your narrative. Show them that you are interested in building an equal, transparent, lasting relationship.

In short, try to build trust. You’ll see that once you’ve achieved this goal, conversions and the concrete effectiveness (also in terms of sales) of your campaigns will soar in a natural way.

10. Forgetting to measure (…and recalibrate)

Often, we focus too much on the building phases of a storytelling campaign, and too little on analyzing the results. This is a big mistake.

In fact, the digital tools we have available today allow us to identify what worked and what didn’t work in our campaigns. It’s all about setting up the right metrics and analytics systems… and being very honest with yourself.

Based on this data, you can continually redesign your strategies, almost in real time, correcting what’s not working and learning from your mistakes!

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