by Brooke Gocklin
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How “Narratives” Drive Engagement With Your Message

customer experience and personal narratives

Narratives are a key element of every memorable message that audiences receive. Though a single Narrative may anchor a campaign for years, brands can build a wide variety of stories around it to hook audiences and connect with them. For example, iconic brand campaigns like Mastercard’s “Priceless” series ran for two decades with a Narrative of Hope communicated through dozens of different spots, including classics that depicted a first date, or a kid’s first baseball game.

Persado uses the world’s largest knowledge base of tagged words and phrases to identify and track the Narratives that our customers use to drive engagement and quantify how well different approaches resonate with customers. These insights – in combination with our insights on the emotional context that drives engagement – help to inform future campaigns, including those our customers work on with us using AI-generated language.

Persado tracks four Narratives types: Brand Narratives, Campaign Narratives, Calendar Narratives, and Personal Narratives.

Let’s drill down into each type of narrative to help you understand what they are, and present how you can use them with examples from two fictional brands – a cosmetics and skincare retailer, and a credit card company.

Brand Narratives

Brand Narratives are the stories through which a brand defines itself to customers. Campaigns like the “Priceless” series or the Old Spice “Smell Like a Man, Man” social media viral campaign are examples of high-level branding campaigns that communicate a feeling or idea of what a company does for its customer.

Both of these examples reflect the longevity of a powerful Brand Narrative – “Priceless” ads ran for more than 20 years, while the “Smell Like a Man, Man” Old Spice campaign is itself an update to the brand’s “The Mark of a Man” tagline from the 1970s.

At Persado, we often start our engagements by codifying the narratives a brand uses to engage with its customer. That brand’s voice and core message frame all other campaign Narratives, and distinguish brands that operate in the same category from each other.

The resulting Brand Narrative for a fictional cosmetics and skincare company, for example, may say something like Love your skin in a Narrative of self-care; or Your face, your canvas to emphasize Creativity with makeup.

Campaign Narratives

Campaign Narratives are the stories used for campaigns aligned around a specific action or purpose. Sales events in retail, for example, or product promotions are a few examples. Campaign Narratives provide a lot of flexibility to tell a story, so long as it’s consistent with the brand voice. Companies ideally layer the brand voice and Personal Narrative insights into campaign creative in order to gear the message for a specific campaign.

A retail campaign for a cosmetics company, for example, might highlight a Campaign Narrative of Self Care. Language like Get your best skin ever reflects that Narrative.

A financial services firm, in contrast, may communicate a Narrative of Confidence for a credit card product with, The market may be unpredictable, but our fees aren’t.

Calendar Narratives

In contrast to general Campaign Narratives, Calendar Narratives are linked to the annual events, holidays, traditions, and belief systems around which people and communities organize. Calendar Narratives may focus on a season, like winter or spring, or on cultural and religious events during the year, like Independence Day or the religious month of Ramadan.

Companies can leverage these annual events to drive Calendar-based Narratives that engage specific customer groups. Our fictional cosmetics company may promote moisturizers with a calendar-driven subject line like Defy winter. A financial services company may use the U.S. tax season to promote CDs or investment products with a web banner promoting ways to Earn from your return.

Personal Narratives

Personal Narratives are the stories that individual customers respond to. They provide the platform on which Persado delivers personalized content to specific customer segments. Personal Narratives integrate with Campaign or Calendar Narratives to deliver stories and images that work best for a specific segment in that Campaign or Calendar context.

For example, a cosmetics customer that regularly buys new lipstick may be more likely to respond to a new-focused Calendar Narrative that encourages them to “Update your look with a spring shade” whereas a customer that likes moisturizing masks may find “Get that spring glow” more appealing.

By speaking to customers in a way that best connects to them, brands can build stronger relationships and ultimately generate more business.

Combining Narratives

The different Narrative types are not mutually exclusive. Campaign Narratives and Calendar Narratives embed aspects of the Brand Narrative through the distinct voice, preferred choice of words, color palette, recurring “characters” and themes, and other branding elements. Both Campaign and Calendar Narratives also incorporate Personal Narratives when they can target specific customer segments.

The intelligence Persado has about the language and Narratives that appeal to different customers would help drive those distinct Narrative angles. This applies across industries. A credit card company promoting flexible loyalty rewards may leverage a different Personal Narrative for a customer segment that spends heavily on travel – e.g. Spring Break is on us – compared to another that spends on retail – Your new look, on us.

Access your Narratives insights

All Persado customers have been benefiting from Narratives since we launched them in 2016. Since early 2022, Persado users are able to access insights about the Narratives that best motivate their customers to take action. Narrative insights are available in the Persado platform for any company that has run enough experiments, and therefore collected enough data, to draw statistically-significant conclusions about the stories that drive customer engagement.

Narratives are a cornerstone of memorable and compelling messaging. With them, Persado’s AI can generate higher-quality content and provide a new level of insight – distinct from emotions and formatting – that can enable Persado users to capture customer attention.

Reach out to us today for a personalized language assessment.