Marketing communications are more than just sharing information; the best marketers know it’s about telling a story. Stories create an experience, provoke emotion, engage the audience and, a good one will stay with them. They can challenge views or follow a character, but regardless of the journey, they all must have a clear beginning, middle, and end.
Fabl embodies the art of storytelling. Designing a Fabl Story is not the same as creating a website or landing page. It requires a flow between pages or sections and a good comprehension of your diversified content. Imagine each video or whitepaper as a stand-alone adventure; without the story surrounding it, the context, meaning, and importance is lost.
With that in mind, here are 5 steps to create amazing Fabl experiences that will capture and engage your audience.
Step 1: Organize Your Topics and Related Content
Your stories are centered around topics – these could be products, events, initiatives, campaigns, etc. Start by aligning your content to your topics and identifying gaps. A content audit is critical since the effectiveness of your stories depend on the quality and variety of your content. As a part of this audit, categorize your content by type (e.g. whitepaper, webinar, infographic) and by learning style (e.g. visual, text, interactive). Your audit will likely identify gaps. For example, you may have a ton of written assets like whitepapers and articles, but only one video. Understanding the potential content to be used in a story allows you to either create content to fill the gaps or drive the direction for your story template. If you only have one video, you should avoid creating a video-centric template. Knowing your content needs and current content library will not only directly impact your designs and templates, but also show you where there is room for growth.
Step 2: Outline Your Story “Genres”
Documentaries look and feel different from horror films. This doesn’t mean that every documentary looks the same, but there is a consistent experience when we watch them. Your goal is to achieve the same consistency with your content stories. Ask yourself the following basic questions:
- What design theme aligns to your story genre?
- Are you focusing on showing off your newest products?
- Or is your goal to provide educational content?
By identifying story genres (or content experiences) you create continuity and engage your audience in a way that shapes the desired experience.
Step 3: Define Your Design
Start by defining the aesthetic features that will create continuity but that also vary from story to story within a genre. This goes beyond company colors and other brand guidelines. Your focus is to define what will make your audience know they are “watching a documentary” and not a “horror film”. For instance, if you have a “New Products” genre, what is it that will show the audience they are in that genre? Are there specific ways you want to showcase the product image reveal? Will all whitepapers be displayed immediately below that image reveal? Will you show this product on a single scrolling page, or do you want sections by clicks? The difficulty here is in creating a motif that is expected, without becoming stale. It is important to remember that this doesn’t mean the image reveal will always look the same. Your products will change and so will your stories, but the genre that holds it should be instantly recognizable to those who follow your brand – and all your genres should be recognized as your company’s content.
Whether that continuity is simply the sections within the story or something more unique is entirely in your hands. If your products have a minimalist sophistication, so should all your stories. If they are industrial by design, create continuity through a similarly industrial aesthetic. As you work through the design, think of relatable experiences in our everyday lives. Apple, for example, creates advertisements that are easily recognizable regardless of product or medium. Aim for the same consistent recognition.
Step 4: Design Sections with Purpose in Mind
Think of each section as a page in your story. Each page has a single goal or message to convey. This can be as simple as a single image with a few short lines of text. Or, it could be more elaborate and contain accordions or loaders. As you choose your sections and content blocks, think about the elements of a story. Is the section designed to give background, pique the interest of its audience for the next section, highlight the problem, solve the problem, or lead to a next step?
In story writing, if a sentence is not absolutely necessary, it should be cut. Each section of your future stories should hold the same level of importance. Create a multitude of sections that align to your story – transitions, introductions, call to actions, sections to get to know your “character” more intimately or that create suspense or inspire awe. Regardless of what kind of section it is, create meaning.
Step 5: Create Templates for Each Genre, But Give Yourself Options
Fabl makes it easy to build stories quickly from scratch; however, templates not only save time but create the consistency you need. While continuity is very important, showing a different image with the same background in the same position gets stale quick. It is important to create different templates for each genre you have created, and a number of different options for each content type you may want to explore. This is why Step 3 is extremely important. Vary your designs within a genre but maintain the overall look and feel. Some changes will still be as simple as changing the position of content while others will be a whole re-imagining of the experience.
Story writers need room for creativity, so your templates should be flexible. Each story within each genre should echo similarities, but not be exact copiesHere are some template tips:
- Sections should be easily divided and replicable.
- Create similar sections with different layouts.
- Create multiple short transition sections with different assets.
- Set custom code in the template or its corresponding theme that can easily be added to any asset – making an animated transition be as simple as copy and pasting a CSS Class Name.
The genre template should be a means through which the story writer can easily create a masterpiece. By giving multiple possibilities for each goal or action and allowing as much flexibility for creative control to the story writer means that your content will never go stale.
We love the creative exercise that goes into developing an effective Fabl story. If you are a Fabl customer we’d love to see your “Once upon a time”. Tag us with your Fabl story on LinkedIn or Twitter. And as always, if you need assistance with understanding if Fabl is right for you or managing your Fabl instance we’d love to chat. We offer technical consulting, template building, training, custom code, and strategy consulting.