Insights

Strategic Storytelling & Message Delivery in a Hybrid Landscape

Storytelling & emotional connection to break through the noise

Hybrid is here to stay… and so is a very crowded digital space. There’s now an abundance of choice for audiences with a huge increase in easily accessible digital experiences. That means more content and also more visibility on a wider array of brand experiences than ever before. Good news and bad news for brands: Think of it like the never-ending scroll to stream something on tv – lots of easily accessible options, however not necessarily quality. There’s greater opportunity to reach people, but also greater opportunity to get lost in the noise.

Audiences are now being bombarded by similar comms. People have less time and less patience for anything that doesn’t stand out or resonate. Content MUST provide value and brands MUST be compelling. They must form an emotional connection. They must have a story.

But just how can you stand out to your audience and connect with them in a meaningful way, in a world that’s overflowing with information? In a way that evokes feelings and forms a relationship with your brand? 

Consider that, in the over-automated, data-driven, socially-distanced world we’re all now living in, one thing really is “more important now than ever before”: the human element. Even pre-2020, audiences were coveting authentic connection with a brand. Now it is essential. Businesses cannot remain faceless. They must connect with people and engage them at a deeper level. They must be genuine. With the globe now hyper-connected, audience priorities (and even values) are changing.

While the principle of ‘storytelling’ hasn’t changed, its applications certainly have… Be it online, digital, phygital or hybrid, virtual, in-person and everything in-between. It’s now pivotal to brand strategy in the new global economy: Both internally and externally. People are more distracted and disconnected than ever. They are craving connection.

The potential of hybrid and brand storytelling

With advances in tech and the power of multi-platform amplification now realized; hybrid experiences are supercharging the overall effectiveness of brand storytelling. They not only bring the physical experience to audiences around the globe, but can allow remote audiences to participate in the event. In fact it can encompass all manner of concepts… and that’s what makes it so exciting. 

It’s a format full of potential. By combining a mix of realities with state-of-the-art platforms, in-person entertainment and emerging tech, brands can now connect with their audiences in ways that weren’t fully realised in the past.

From hyper-local activations to socially distant live entertainment, there’s been a revolution in an already exciting world of live experiences. Now attendees have more choice than ever on where, when and how to attend. The best part? It’s a sustainable model too. This past year and a half showed us all that we can enhance our offering, while being more environmentally friendly.

Now that hybrid formats are accelerating alongside advancements in AI and new forms of content, it’s now vital to think beyond the experience to things like: data, authenticity, omnichannel engagement and personalization. Perhaps most important of all, you need to provide escape.

We’ve been living in a unique time where, without the normal stimulation of everyday life, escapism is the new tourism. You need to transport people beyond their screen. Even in the long awaited “new normal” we’re arriving at, people are going to be yearning for meaningful experiences for a long time to come. To effectively transport people or give something meaning, you must give it a story.

You must captivate your people and take them on a journey like never before. They are hungering for sights, sounds, textures, and emotional stimulation beyond the screen. Before all the bells and whistles of sensory arousal, you must start with your story.

Our hybrid storytelling principles

We’ve touched on the importance of themes like being authentic, forming an emotional connection and transporting your audience, in order to break through the noise of a crowded digital space. We’ve seen how the core unifying principle to give real meaning to a hybrid experience and engage audiences is storytelling. We’ve seen how storytelling enhances hybrid, and vice versa; how hybrid enhances storytelling. Both are all but ineffective, without the other.

Digital or hybrid experiences are completely different to the brand experiences of the past. While they share elements of in-person events, they actually require a new mix of skills, time, and strategy – not to mention attendee interaction. You must rethink your entire approach… it’s not enough to simply “replicate” your live experience. 

With that in mind, we’re getting into the finer points of hybrid brand storytelling, with our own top 10 principles.

  1. Start from the end. What do you want your audience to feel & do?
  2. Leverage data & insights to maximize the experience.
  3. Collaborate using a diverse mix of minds.
  4. Challenge the norm.
  5. Captivate with a big first impression.
  6. Be intentional & authentic. Make every second count.
  7. Great stories are built on a foundation of emotion.
  8. Change is fundamental – don’t let your story coast.
  9. Bring your narrative to life using the appropriate tools for the situation.
  10. A compelling story reveals a powerful message.

Once you’ve harnessed these core principles, It’s imperative that you consider a multitude of formats which weave your narrative into an effective cross-channel tapestry. 

For insights and ideas into how you can do this, check out our FIRST Feed.