The role of data-led storytelling in a post-pandemic world
Authored by Gaurav Patra, Co-Founder of Value 360 Communications.
The pandemic and its impact on brands
2020 was the year when we witnessed the maximum number of changes. Starting with a never before experienced pandemic, to a global lockdown, there were a multitude of transformations. Virtual became the new real, with work and personal communications being conducted digitally in a bid to maintain social distancing. Businesses also began communicating messages to existing and potential customers, launching products and services and managing relationships with all key stakeholders, digitally. Since the physical interface was missing, it was critical for brands to remain active on various online and social media platforms to create a distinction and maintain a top of the mind recall.
The increased significance of storytelling
In a bid to break the clutter and stay relevant, brands began to increasingly turn to storytelling. So, what is storytelling and how does it impact brands and its audience? Simply put, storytelling is the art of conveying a message, a narrative or the overall brand ethos, in order to connect and empathise with the target audience. This tool is used very effectively by brand managers across organisations, globally. According to a Stanford study, stories are remembered up to 22 times more than facts alone. It is more engaging, relatable and credible and thus, is preferred by the audience, as well. Usually the audience connects with the brand basis their personal values, choices and identity. A brand mirroring these attributes would immediately position itself as desirable in the minds of its audience. In addition, storytelling conveys the brand’s purpose, its individuality and acts as a call to action.
It is important to note that the “story” has to be authentic and a reflection of an experience, usually a challenge and how it was overcome in order to fulfil the ultimate purpose. Marketing campaigns are great examples of storytelling that has a complete narrative of existing challenges faced by customers and provides a solution, thereby indirectly prompting the audience to notice and be driven to the offering. At a time when customers did not have access to the physical products or could not interface with a company executive to get clarity, storytelling served as an effective bridge between brands and its customers.
The evolution of data storytelling
It is imperative to note that storytelling by a brand should not sound utopian or make the audience feel disconnected due to its nature of being qualitative alone. This brings us to data led storytelling and its importance, which is on the rise in a post pandemic world. What it essentially means is the use of data to convey a narrative in a way that gives the audience greater assurance compared to storytelling without any verifiable facts. As popularly mentioned, data is the new oil and hence, the most powerful tool in the modern world. The insights obtained from it help brands create customised solutions for its audience. During the pandemic, data storytelling was used effectively by WHO as well as various Governments and its bodies to assure audience of their efforts to “flatten the curve” and eventually counter the pandemic. On similar lines, brands also use data storytelling to establish their stand, purpose and relatability, albeit with data analysis.
Data storytelling assists in better visualisation of trends, impact, detailed understanding and most importantly encourages participation of target audience and establishes a direct line of communication with them. Data is available to all, but how it is used to drive insights is the value addition brand managers can bring using data storytelling. Not only would these insights invoke a sense of empathy from audience, but would also be more effective for eventual conversions. Right from acknowledging a gap or challenges faced by the audience, standing up to it by providing a customised solution, creating the need for an offering, communicating about the offering, and persuade them to relate and become or continue being a customer, data storytelling helps in every stage of customer acquisition and retaining.
From the brand perspective, data storytelling leads to greater return on investment on marketing and business objectives, conveys the brand’s perspective and creates an emotional as well as intelligence connect with its customers. It changes attitude of target audience and can even create a completely new product or service category, thereby establishing the brand as a pioneer.
What makes data storytelling even more compelling?
In the age of abundance of information, leading to clutter, data storytelling helps brands structure a narrative so that the audience finds it more compelling to understand and follow. The relatability factor emphasized through a data storytelling gives audience a clear picture of what’s in it for them, thereby creating a strong call to action. Since data storytelling is a two way communication it helps brands understand the needs of its audience and customise its offering. Brand managers should, however, keep the data storytelling dynamic in order to cater to the changing needs of new age customers. Hence both data and insights need to be time-relevant. The interesting format of marrying quantitative data to qualitative narration, makes it interesting for the audience to consume and retain the information, hence achieving its purpose.
The pandemic reinforced the underlying concept of data and technology in the digital age. While the media has been long using data storytelling to catch the eye of its audience, the concept has become increasingly important for brands as well, particularly in the post pandemic era. In the world of Infodemic, data storytelling is the powerful concept that helps is averting a crisis, creating a need, and driving conversions, thus, making it the future of marketing, and in the long run, brands and its positioning.
DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are solely of the author and Adgully.com does not necessarily subscribe to it.