Raise Your Brand Storytelling Game: 4 Takeaways from the Elevate Conference

Brand Storytelling’s “Elevate 2018” conference was held last month in Deer Valley, Utah. And if the scenic mountainous views weren’t inspiring enough, the two days jammed with fruitful discussions, case studies and trends from the industry’s leading storytellers, production companies, media outlets, agencies and brands. In addition to bringing attending and gathering key learnings for our clients and colleagues, Ketchum was also on the big stage throughout the conference where we both hosted a brand event, and Marcus moderated a one-on-one chat with a client. Additionally, Ketchum Sounds also presented the closing night music performance with music stars Us the Duo.

Here are some key themes and lessons we heard at the conference that all brands should keep in mind when looking to elevate their narratives:

Contribute to Culture: One entertainment marketing executive suggested that brands should be contributors to culture, rather than borrow equity. In an age when every brand wants to engage in agile marketing – big and small – this is an important reminder that we keep our clients authentic and don’t insert ourselves into conversations we don’t belong in. And similarly, think about what our brands and clients can be doing to move the needle on cultural conversations. Can we make an actual difference in the lives of others vs only just talking about a cultural issue? Important words to remember.

Embrace the Everyday: We all know that YouTube is the second most popular search engine; however, Linda Petta, Global Creator Innovation Lead at YouTube shared some of the trends they’re seeing people search for, most notably for what might seem like “mundane” tasks that blend utility and entertainment. Topics such as “morning cleaning routine,” “nighttime cleaning,” “cleaning hacks” and “clean with me” are soaring. There’s even a trend in people recording themselves studying and doing homework, receiving hundreds of thousands of views. So, if you think your brand or services may not be as exciting or sexy, don’t underestimate the power of YouTube content to attract views.

Own Your Content: Many brands partner with third party companies and creators to develop content on behalf of the brand. One creative executive reminded brands, and those negotiating on behalf of brands, to be sure they own their content long-term. We tap third party companies to create content on behalf of our clients that may also live on those third-party channels to reach a certain audience or leverage a certain expertise; however, no matter if the content is short form, long form or episodic, anything we can do to help our clients own that content long-term will only benefit.

Instagram Stories > Snapchat: Both channels are popular for brands, influencers and celebrities alike to post and share content to their followers. But, Creative Artists Agency’s Matt Wind confirmed that he’s seeing celebrity and influencer talent be more “precious” about the branded content they feature in their Instagram feed and more open to the content they feature in their Instagram stories, which like Snapchat content disappear after just 24 hours. While there are many similarities in the functionality in Snap and Instagram Stories, it’s no surprise that “Instagram stories are eating Snapchat’s lunch”. It doesn’t mean brands should rule out Snap as it may be the right channel to reach a certain target; however, know there’s likely more value in Instagram stories.

Thank you to the full Brand Storytelling team for the opportunity to experience so many great discussions with so many powerful and creative minds. We’re already looking forward to next year!

Marcus is EVP of entertainment, Ketchum Sports & Entertainment; head of Ketchum Sounds. He has spend the last nine years in the Omnicom system creating next geneation entertainment marketing solutions for our roster of clients.