How to Use Micro-Stories to Win at Brand Storytelling

How to Use Micro-Stories to Win at Brand Storytelling

Have you ever seen an advertisement on television for a major brand and thought gosh, that’s very specific, or I don’t get it?. Maybe you’ve wondered how was someone paid to come up with that?. If so, you’re not alone. But, more than likely the advertisement’s story wasn’t intended to resonate with you.  

Contemporary advertisers use micro-stories to help their brands resonate with specific target audiences by relating to their specific lives. They take into account individual demographics, circumstances, mindsets and habits. Micro-stories give brands the opportunity to connect with individuals of their target audiences with greater authenticity, through real-world scenarios.

Micro-stories help you resonate with subcultures of your audience

A brand doing this well in the Australian car industry is Toyota. Toyota released The Return of Recreation campaign in March 2020. This campaign reflects the market trend where consumers turn to SUV style cars to cater for their recreational needs. These cars also must be nimble enough to tackle the in-and-outs of their day-to-day city driving. Toyota did this well by engaging with subculture of young families who like to get away on the weekend.

The storytelling is specific. The scene is set with mum driving, the kids asleep in the backseat, along with dad asleep in the passenger seat. The narrator speaks to their big, recreational day out and the promises dad made to keep mum company on the drive home. Humorously, mum takes matters into her own hands by approaching a cattle grid with increased speed, waking them up immediately.

It’s a funny advertisement. Not the type to make you laugh out loud but one to make you smile as mum seemingly got one back with a bit of humour. So, how does this sell cars? Does a cheeky smile sell cars? Maybe not – at least not to every person, as it’s not meant to necessarily resonate with you or me anyway. For a decision maker of a young family who has children, likes to getaway on the weekends and needs help deciding which of the 40-odd midsize SUVs on the Australian market best serves their needs – it does.

This micro-story resonates with its target audience on multiple, compelling levels – the husband/dad falling asleep in the passenger seat, the mother/wife being left to make the drive home virtually alone (however, she hasn’t lost her sass!) and everyone can relate to the children falling asleep in the back. All the signs of an exhausting yet successful adventure.

But – what makes a story a micro-story?

A micro-story is a detailed component of a story block (a fundamental element of a compelling story) that dives a little deeper into the details of the story and expands on relevant information (the parts that truly connect with your audience). In The Return of Recreation advertisement we already know a couple of the key story blocks within seconds – a young family that’s been out for recreational adventure and is now on their way home.

This story gets micro when it colours in the finer details of the journey. In this case, the car ride home and associated specifics. At a macro level, this information is not at all exciting and won’t sell a car. However, when you get micro and include real-world scenarios with the finer details of what really happens on these adventures, the potential to make connections and resonate with an audience grows.

Micro-stories build trust with individuals of your target audience

Toyota did this well again in another advertisement released in 2020 – this time for the Awaken your Unbreakable 60 campaign, advertising the 2020 Hilux. This advertisement tells the micro-story of another young family driving home from a recreational adventure. However, this time a child has lost her teddy. Dad turns the ute around, not far from home, and begins the hunt for the teddy. Deep into their search, after almost all their options are exhausted, mum realises the teddy has been in her bag the whole time. She sneakily throws it on the ground into the path of her husband. He finds it, saving the day and becoming the hero.

This is yet another funny advertisement from Toyota using micro-stories to connect with the audience. This time the relatable aspects are the child losing their toy, a search for the toy (including backtracking), and the mother discovering she had the toy all along and then devising a way to keep the peace.

All these elements are highly relatable, and for the intended audience, likely to provoke a cheeky smile and a roll of the eyes that suggests I’ve been there. The advertisement may resonate enough with the intended audience to invoke a sense of relatability and trust – trust that Toyota understands them as a person and the car was built specifically to cater for their needs.

A micro-story is just one piece of the puzzle to tell a compelling story and resonate with audiences. Find out what else it takes to tell a compelling story and to build genuine connections with your audience by getting in contact with Blunt Agency. Contact us now.