The power of storytelling is illustrated by four simple words: “Once upon a time.” That timeless phrase is powerful. You know exactly what kind of story you’re going to hear.
Humans are social creatures, and we have been drawn to stories since the beginning of time. Our ancestors sat around campfires and invented language with stories, weaving narratives to make sense of the world around them. Over the centuries, people have invented technologies that create emotions and meaning for the people who are open to receiving the story. From word of mouth to books, films, TV shows and now a wealth of digital services, people tell their stories however they can.
Website storytelling is no different. Like other story forms, it has cues and elements you can use to tell your brand’s unique story — if you know what the story is and how to use them. Brands can be presented in ways that craft compelling narratives about their attributes, and this can be a very powerful tool in your marketing toolbox.
Take a look at your website right now, and ask yourself this question: What story is my website telling about my brand?
Telling a Cohesive Story
The key to good website storytelling is to bring everything together. It’s not just about the words you use or the images you choose. People pick up clues about your brand identity through color, fonts, layout and even the flow from page to page.
A website tells a story through a clear, well-defined style and a vision of what the brand story is. It’s powerful when it’s done well, but it’s not easy to pull off.
Designers Who Think Like Storytellers
In film school, I learned that every story needs a beginning, a middle and an end. How you convey these key elements is what makes it interesting and gives your story life. That flow from the start to the finish keeps your reader interested and moving through the story.
Who is the hero in your story? Is it the user? Or the product you’re trying to sell? Maybe it’s you. You need to know that so that the narrative you create makes sense to the reader (aka your website user). Figure out how to use concepts like cliffhangers, point of view, theme, conflict and setting so that you can build a complete journey into your website.
Key Brand Storytelling Elements for Your Website
Once you have figured out the story, then you need to decide what elements you are going to use to tell that story via a website. Here are some of the most important elements you can use:
The look of your home page and the visual elements on it will be the first thing that registers with your visitors, and we all know the importance of making a good first impression. Make sure you’re comfortable with the look. The colors, the images, the layout and style of graphs, charts and illustrations should all be consistent with your brand.
The visual language sets the scene and gives users a feel for what this website is all about. Try asking someone who’s never seen your site what their first impression is. Chances are, it’s going to be very useful and all about the visual story they are receiving.
The use of on-site copy across all your web pages is your most powerful brand storytelling tool. Good, clean, interesting writing makes all the difference on a website. It doesn’t have to be complicated — quite the opposite, in fact. But make sure to move the story along using emotion, wit, fear, desire, or whatever is most appropriate when it comes to telling your website story.
It’s always worth bearing in mind that most users visit a website when they are trying to solve a problem. If you know what that is, and how your story provides the resolution they seek (as every good story should!), then tell them how.
Video & Audio Storytelling
The use of moving visuals and sound on your website is a chance to add a bit of excitement to the pages and let your creativity shine. You can really make a big impact with a short, punchy video clip and still not interfere with the simplicity and clarity of your main page.
Music is also an incredibly powerful way of telling your story. It lets you set the tone and build atmosphere, and when it’s used really well, can provoke the kind of emotions you want your customers to feel. Video is also very useful to show a more personal side of your business. Help your users get a sense of who you are and what your company believes in. Let them get a little peek behind the curtain that builds up a sense of trust in the people behind the brand.
Great Stories Are Hard To Tell
It can take a long time before you get it right, but when you do, you’ll be astonished at how much further and faster your message spreads.
A website with a story to tell stands out in a world where most websites simply display facts or opinions or exist merely to make a sale. If you’re lucky, then your story may fit in your visitor’s story, and the two may become fused. Then you’re really connecting, and your visitor becomes invested in finding out more about your brand and interacting with your website.
People fall in love with stories every single day. Help them to fall in love with yours.
If you’re looking for a new story to tell, or you know that your story is missing some key elements, then reach out and speak to a story expert at Orpheus. We can help you craft a new narrative that suits your website and what you’re trying to achieve.