Rahul Sarangi
Guest Article

Why are brands in love with non-branded storytelling?

The author of this article is The Viral Fever's Rahul Sarangi

Traditional means of marketing and communication today coexist with the new age media, and brands have evolved along with the evolving consumer trends in endless ways. Traditionally, we have seen advertisements compelling consumers to pay attention to a brand’s message, with the use of slogans, catchy tag lines, and even jingles and anthems. From ‘I Love You Rasna’ to ‘Washing Powder Nirma’, all have created a lasting impact on generations at large. Conventional messaging drew consumers to a product or service but limited consumers from thinking beyond the product or service.

Today, means of messaging have evolved and lines have blurred between mediums. Brands these days prefer to communicate with the consumer in the language of their preference and medium of their choice. Moreover, messaging is blended strategically with storytelling – a strategy which has never been easy. Let’s remember the classic ‘Piyo Glassful Doodh’ by Amul here.

While consumers are difficult to please in general given the numerous choices available, millennials are the toughest of the lot. This, combined with the increasing number of touch points makes connecting with millennials an even tougher task. Research indicates that millennials spend around 40 minutes on an average simply surfing the web. Another research states, they spend over two hours a day on social media and almost six hours daily on their mobile devices. While video and text content are known to dominate their consumption patterns, there is a shift in their preference wherein they are looking for more relatable, realistic, worthwhile and beneficial content. Understanding this consumption pattern and preference, brands and marketers have begun to communicate their message with storytelling in a non-branded format. Today, even legacy brands have understood the power of such non-branded storytelling and have begun communicating with their consumer in this fashion.

Focused on creating meaningful stories, the world’s most renowned brands these days are coping with the fleeting preferences of consumers. Leveraging the power of consumers to indulge in worthful decision making, brands and marketers have rediscovered the reality to engage with the targeted audience in a lively manner. We have reached a stage when ad filtering has come to dominate every medium without the consumer even becoming aware of the brand directly.

Millennials are known to avoid ads and control every aspect of their online experience that is possible. As a result, the effort, time and resources that is being invested into crafting a successful campaign is even higher than earlier. Storytelling for brands has hence evolved into a process of marketing an experience or a lifestyle, rather than marketing a product or service. Brands began moving beyond the typical 30 seconder and collaborations with films, and series for in-film placements, were on the rise. This further evolved to non-branded web series and films to create a lasting and stronger impact with an end objective of ‘Making a Difference’.

Triumphing sentiments with the help of such techniques were in synch with the rise of OTT players, both audio and video. IVM Podcasts’ Equity Sahi Hai, TVF’s Tripling and Kota Factory, are a few such examples. We have seen such properties win awards on the global front. The brand integration in such formats is seamless. Similarly, there have been several films in the recent past that took the same route and performed well at the box office. Such brand integrations can go beyond the property created with integrated campaigns that can be used across traditional media. Akshay Kumar’s PadMan challenge is a classic example. The content play in such storytelling has a strong appeal and connects instantaneously with millennials. Such messaging has a significant impact on brand metrics while working exceptionally well with the target group. It also gives niche and smaller brands an opportunity to connect with their consumers like never before.

Conscious consumerism has redefined a business’ purpose beyond profit to thrive in the competitive market. Tracing back, a brand’s role to simplify people’s busy lives has lost pace with rapid changes. Availability of such means to control the relationship you want to nurture with youth has also been validated. Brands are looking to stay relevant by communicating more and speaking less to connect, engage and craft lasting relationships, thus making a difference.

The author of this article, Rahul Sarangi is Global Head, Content and Business, The Viral Fever

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