In this guest post, opr CEO Richard Brett (main photo) offers his expert tips to ensure your brand always has a happy story to tell…
We’ve all experienced an unsettling sense that life slowed down and accelerated at the same time during the past year. Most of us spent more time at home but were more active than ever on digital and social channels – connecting, shopping, learning and escaping.
Many aspects of our personal and professional life have changed in some way. Our priorities are different. Brands need to rethink marketing and communications content in response to this shift in thinking and behaviour.
In our latest thought leadership report – The Future of Content – we look at eight trends shaping brand storytelling. These include putting more focus on audiences search, the growing popularity of lo-fi, and how TikTok is ripping up the user-generated rulebook.
The rise of long-form
But in this column I’m going to concentrate on three time-related trends. The first of these is the ongoing rise of long-form content. This predates the pandemic but has been amplified by the experiences of the past year as audiences with more time looked to immerse themselves in detail.
The average length of a blog post has risen from a little over 800 words in 2014 to more than 1200 words. Backlinko analysis of more than 11.8 million posts last year found that the average length of an article on the first page of search results was almost 1500 words. The average number one post? Almost 2500 words.
Leaning into this trend, marketers should spend time identifying a small number of niche topics where their brand has an opportunity to go deep and be the most authoritative voice. Build rich and immersive stories with audio, video and high-quality imagery. Audiences who share your passion will love you for it.
The next of these three trends is nostalgia. This is an emotional shortcut marketers have used for many years to establish a bond with audiences, but this has also been accentuated during the pandemic as people craved comfort and escapism.
Our favourite recent example was Burberry’s recreation of ‘Singing in the Rain’ with a hip hop beat set against an East London backdrop. We also loved the Qantas safety video that offered a century of in-flight fashion as well as a potted history of safety innovations.
Brands should look for ways to use this powerful weapon against the anxiety, boredom and loneliness that has impacted us all to some degree during the past year. Classic sounds, looks and flavours bring back positive memories and make us feel good.
The final trend I want to mention is what we’re calling weirdly satisfying content. This is time-related because it’s an opportunity for audiences to checkout and escape for a few minutes, or much longer for those who really get into it.
We love Lucas Zanotto’s kinetic animations, which feature the same characters flipping and twisting repetitively through the same motions. Brands like McDonald’s and ING have explored this territory, with surreal representations of breakfast muffins and banking.
Our concept of time has changed during the past year. Marketers should look for ways to build this into brand storytelling with long-form, nostalgic and weirdly satisfying content that gives audiences an opportunity to escape from it all.