Published: 2022-08-11 14:59
Last Updated: 2022-10-04 05:03
At first glance, it wouldn’t appear that fiction writing and marketing communication have much in common. Aside from a general adherence to grammatical rules (and even those aren’t always set in stone), literature and brand communications would seem to be worlds apart. You would never read an ad—or a brochure, or a social media post, or a press release—the way you would a novel.
Or would you?
At the end of the day, effective marketing is underpinned by the same core principle that drives any great novel: it’s all about being an exceptional storyteller. And today’s marketers could learn a thing or two from novelists and fiction writers. Here are a few principles of good fiction writing that can help enhance how your brand communicates with its stakeholders.
Show, Don’t Tell
To quote the iconic Russian author Anton Chekhov, “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” In other words, don’t just tell your audience what you want them to know or see or feel: show them. If, for example, you want to demonstrate the superiority of your products or services, it’s never going to be enough to simply talk about how great they are. Instead, brands need to find clever, implicit ways to highlight how their products and services are exceptional.
What does that mean in practical terms? It means that pure advertising alone—while important—is not enough. This is where practices like direct marketing and public relations come in to play: PR agencies like ASDA’A BCW are masters at crafting brand narratives that show more than they explicitly tell. They do this through a wide variety of tools and tactics, creating implicit associations that link brands to their desired perception. If, for example, you want to show how your brand is innovative, you don’t just go out and state, explicitly, that your brand is innovative: you demonstrate that characteristic through new services, new products, and by being a thought leader in your industry. It’s all about embodying whatever message you’re trying to convey.
Make Sure Your Narrative is Consistent—but Not Static
A great story is one that is always going somewhere: the minute the plot starts to lose direction is the minute the reader starts to lose interest. Momentum is important in fiction, and it’s equally important in brand communication. Your marketing, PR, and advertising campaigns need to continually demonstrate progress and evolution, whether through new creative executions or by showing growth on all levels.
At the same time, it’s important not to veer too far away from your central plotline. Think of the concept of Chekhov’s Gun: if you introduce a gun to the story, it should go off before the last act. Otherwise, why mention it at all? The same goes for brand communication: if you’re going to talk about something—a service, a milestone, an event—it needs to fit into your overarching brand narrative. How does this occasion or service or milestone build on the story of your company?
This is why strategic, integrated communication is so important—and why integrated communication groups like MENACOM Jordan are increasingly working to centralize their content departments: so that they can help clients ensure a strong, cohesive narrative across all communication practices and channels.
Bring Your Characters to Life—and Make Them Feel Real
In fiction, strong characters are those that feel especially human. If your protagonist is flawless and your antagonist is evil incarnate, your story won’t feel real, and your characters will start to look more like cartoonish caricatures.
The same goes for your brand: of course, you want to be the hero in your own story. But you also need to showcase the humanity of your brand—which means managing trials, tribulations, and obstacles transparently. It also means being honest and open with your stakeholders, and not trying to gloss over challenges without acknowledging them.
Additionally, a great way to showcase the human elements of your brand is to put the spotlight on the people behind the scenes: highlighting and recognizing your employees is a great way to help customers feel a more personal connection with your company. PR agency ASDA’A BCW puts a strong emphasis on spokesperson training for its clients, going beyond the standard positioning for top, C-level executives and helping employees across all levels of an organization become powerful ambassadors for their brand.
Be Open and Straightforward
American author George Saunders puts it best: “A work of art moves us by being honest and that honesty is apparent in its language and its form and in its resistance to concealment.” What is true for art is true for life: when it comes to communicating about your brand, being simple and straightforward will always be more compelling and persuasive for your audience. There’s been a notable shift in the language of marketing in recent years, toward a more honest and pared-down tone of voice. That doesn’t mean you can’t use elevated, creative, and artistic language—it just means that you need to make sure the language you’re using isn’t making it harder for stakeholders to get to the crux of what you’re trying to say. People appreciate honesty and simplicity, and forward-thinking brands are readily adapting to the evolving demands of consumers, by being more open, forthcoming, and proactive in how they communicate.
Just like great literature, great brand communications should move your audience. To achieve that kind of resonance, you need to make sure you have a story worth telling—and that the voices telling that story are passionate, persuasive, and impactful.