As the digital revolution in marketing and advertising continues to evolve, the stakes will only continue to rise. While access to consumers is at an all time high through social media and search engine marketing, the resulting deluge of advertising has a desensitizing effect. Consumers are becoming experts at ignoring advertisements and they have a host of tools like spam filters, ad-blockers, and VPNs available to help them avoid the constant bombardment of media. In this increasingly adverse environment, the only way to rise above the competition and attract smarter consumers is to create genuinely engaging content.

Storytelling is an underutilized but powerful marketing strategy. While not as easy as creating catchy slogans or slick logos, a quality narrative can create strong brand recognition that the gimmicks are rendered unnecessary. One increasing popular medium that can attract a targeted audience to a brand is documentaries. These videos have a wide range of subject matters and can span anywhere from minutes to hours. From Van’s documentary on up and coming creatives, to American Express’ profile on poverty, these videos are the new savvy brand building techniques. Despite the huge variance, they are united by their relentless dedication to creating authentic quality content that is not overbranded.

Branded documentaries incorporate your brand into a larger narrative and give your business the opportunity to present its culture and values. American Express’s documentary portrays a portion of the corporation that is not usually presented to consumers, a financial institution that is concerned about poverty. These pieces can also become the bedrock of incredibly successful long-term marketing campaigns. When Stella Artois commissioned their documentary on the disappearing world of hand painting advertisements, they cut the footage into television spots and made it the centerpiece of their entire ad campaign. Church’s Chicken did a miniseries highlighting prolific drummers that was so successful in engaging their audience in a broader narrative that a year and a half later, they still are developing content on this theme.

Companies have noted that while this strategy is effective across all ages, it is especially effective at captivating a younger audience as growing up in the digital media landscape has left them immune to more traditional marketing ploys. Additionally, the marketing content doesn’t feel overly commercial and can be reused without feeling derivative. When a narrative arch is successfully achieved it leaves your market base wanting more of your content and feeling like they are a part of it.

Storytelling that is interesting, visually appealing and authentic is the direction that marketing and advertising is headed. As the story progresses, consumers will be engaged not only because of pre-existing brand recognition but because they are invested in a story.

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