Every day, more and more digital content is churned out in an effort to grab people’s attention. Blogs, social media posts, infographics and videos are all battling it out in an information overload. No wonder some marketers are looking for other mediums to get their message across. The most popular form of storytelling has always been novels, and brands are keen to make the most of the book format. This begs the question as to whether novels can help push branded content in a new direction, and if so, how can your business make the most of it?
Everyone’s got a story to tell
One of the most effective examples of a branded content book is The Shape of Clouds by Gianrico Carofiglio. Written in partnership with Mercedes-Benz to advertise their 4Matic drive system, the book creates an interactive road experience. Each person’s story is unique to them and it works by the novel asking for your location. Once that’s done, the book takes the reader on an adaptive road journey.
When I started reading The Shape of Clouds, I began my journey on a dark road with flashing lights. As soon as I turned the page, the lights got brighter and simulated the beginning of a car crash. The next page revealed an alarm clock to simulate waking up from a dream. It’s harrowing, emotive stuff that makes you want to read on.
When it was released, The Shape of Clouds was a huge success, with the Italian version being downloaded more than 90,000 times. This gave Mercedes-Benz some great PR and helped to bring more attention to Carofiglio’s work.
Successful authors have combined their stories with a digital strategy to great effect. The most famous example of this is JK Rowling’s partnership with Sony and the creation of Pottermore. The website offered Harry Potter fans the chance to explore Hogwarts in a digital format and expand their knowledge. The digital transition helped Rowling introduce her work to a new generation and gave Sony the chance to be associated with a popular book series.
How can your brand take advantage?
Using a novel to push branded content can be beneficial when done in the right way. Based on the examples, authenticity is a must. Creating a book that’s engaging and interactive will keep people reading. A novel needs to read like a novel, rather than a long advertisement.
Brands have the opportunity to be creative in an area they might not have thought about before. Your brand could use different graphic backgrounds to create a sense of place. Some readers like to create their own stories, so having an adaptive digital novel can generate more interest. Partnering with a well-known author can also help to raise a brand’s profile. Creating a lasting relationship with a writer is essential because you’ll be able to elevate each other.
The nature of storytelling is cyclical. Brands have lived in the digital world for many years and some are reverting back to physical media. Using books for branded content is a niche path to take, but when it’s done properly, it can reap big rewards.