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Building Effective Storytelling Strategies for Technical Brands

Oliver Cox

Here’s how to close the gulf between the people that matter to a brand and the technical understanding that powers it.

Storytelling for highly specialized and technical companies is essentially the process of curating industry-specific data and studies (from fields such as information technology, materials science, and medicine) in a way that is meaningful for the decision-maker or end user.

This process requires three things: an understanding of the brand voice in question; an ability to modulate insider language so that the actual target audience can connect with your message; and packaging the relevant information and data in a way that is relevant to the lives and objectives of your target consumers, often by rallying a chorus of their peers.

Understand Your Brand’s Voice

Brands that speak with a coherent and compelling voice will be much more successful in their storytelling. So, gaining a deep understanding of our clients’ voices is a focus when building their storytelling strategies.

However, getting a feel for a brand’s voice involves a lot more work than reading its website or even speaking to an executive. If you’re speaking to a company leader, the voice you’re experiencing is the one they use to speak to people like you — not necessarily the same as the one they use to address other audiences.

Most brands have a variety of audiences, such as end-users, direct customers, and business partners, and speaking to each of these audiences effectively requires a specific voice. The best way to get a feel for these different voices is to listen to a company leader actually addressing the audiences in question. Observe these interactions at every opportunity you can!

Turn Insider Language into Audience Language

As an agency, it is our duty to understand and speak in the voice of our clients. However, sometimes language that seems natural to company leaders actually creates a barrier between them and their audience.

On several occasions, we’ve run into this scenario:

  • Brand calls what it does / the product it sells “X”
  • Audience calls it “Y”
  • The brand and its natural audience miss each other to a significant extent

In search, this is even more important: the words people type are literally the markers that search engines use to surface answers to their questions or solutions to their problems.

As an agency, we bridge the gap, linguistically, between the brand and its audience. Doing so requires extensive and creative research into the audience in question, its members’ habits, and the way they access information.

Turn Features into Stories and Rally a Chorus of Voices

Brands with highly specialized products should be proud of their technical specifications, durability, and capabilities. However, as an agency, it is usually up to us to connect the specifications of a solution with what this actually means for the people who use it.

For consumers, this means not focusing on, for example, the strength of a particular material used in a brand’s product. What the consumer actually cares about are the implications of this quality for themselves, their lives, or their businesses.

Meanwhile, these benefits remain latent for most consumers until they hear from other people about the specific, real-life stories that offer context for the services the company offers. Brands that rally a chorus of voices around their offerings strengthen their marketing with some of the strongest human feelings: empathy and belonging.

All of the same principles apply to B2B branding, too. The decision-maker in a highly technical profession usually does care about the scientific studies that prove a given brand’s value. However, if the company can present the information in a more accessible and engaging way — rather than saying, effectively, “Here’s a 20-page study, knock yourself out” — it will be far more likely to earn the desired action or commitment of the prospect in question.

The chorus of voices rule applies here, too: for a professional with a high level of expertise in their field, a series of case studies from their peers is qualitatively more valuable and engaging than a list of features and benefits. Fundamentally, for both B2C and B2B, the what is meaningful when combined with the how (how do I benefit?), the why (why is this meaningful to me?) and the who (who else have you helped?).

As I often emphasize, marketing and storytelling are about people. Working with highly specialized and technical clients, the people can sometimes seem a little distant from the stuff that makes the product tick. So, remembering that these same brands save, enrich, and expand the possibilities of people’s lives every day is the foundation of the strategy outlined above.

Oliver Cox

Marketing & Innovation Lead

Originally from the UK, now builds custom strategies to share our clients' visions and stories. Novelist and musician in his spare time.

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