It goes back to the childhood
Yes, that far. Your parents used to read stories, which had the magical power of taking you to another world. You were slaying dragons, looking for lost treasures and escaping from a bad witch. Do you remember how captivated you used to be by the plot? You felt the same as the heroes in the story.
You were not alone
And the good news is the power of a good story still works now when you’re an adult. There is scientific proof to that.
Stories make us remember facts quicker – it’s because a part of our brain responsible for memorizing is the same part we use for imagination. A great example gives us Steve, the ecommerce expert from RPC headquarters: he tells of a history teacher in his college, who was always passionate about the subject. He used to discuss a Mexican War or Bubonic Plague so vividly the whole class sat mesmerized listening with the jaws dropped. None of the students ever before gave a flying flip about these wars, yet all were transported into the events by the power of great storytelling.
Storytelling techniques in marketing
That’s why a good story plays a major part in brand building. Let’s define brand building here. It is creating a positive image of a brand, giving it a personality your customers can relate to. Can you connect the dots?
We use emotions to make decisions
Psychology Today further explores how emotions influence the way we shop. They say our brain, and MRI neuro-imagery precisely, stimulates the way we perceive brands. We pick companies that make us feel good, and not the ones selling best products. Interesting, isn’t it?
So how does it translate to you, as a freelance content strategist?
Let’s start by referring to Antonio Damasio and his book Descartes’ Error – “Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain”. Here, the author shows that emotion is a necessary ingredient in a decision making. When faced with a choice, we refer to feelings and previous events when we had similar dilemma.
The study in the book involves people whose emotional and thinking areas of the brain became disconnected due to a previous damage. These people could process the rational information but were not capable of making any decisions, as they didn’t know how to feel about them.
Let’s see how famous brands do it.
Have you ever searched for a house? Then you know stories can be powerful. You see, you were not looking for three bedrooms and one en-suite. No – you were buying an idea of sitting in the secluded garden in the evening with a glass of wine. You wanted to hear of a tale of taking an evening shower and going straight to a fresh bed without passing through a hallway. The soft carpets in the rooms told you how fantastic it will be step on them instead of cold linoleum. That’s one of storytelling marketing examples showing how good story affects our emotions and the decision making.
But property is not the only market that uses stories to sell. Each and every brand do it too: Coca-Cola with their Christmas truck rolling in to your town or McDonalds trying to tell us their burgers were growing on the fields just yesterday. Yes, these are all stories.
But let’s get to facts
Let’s say you are after new patio furniture for the summer. You go through a home store catalogue to pick the right one. Which is more likely to catch your eye – the simple ad with a description listing number of chairs and dimensions of the table – or a full size family scene: parents relaxing on the chairs while kids are playing around a table?
Emotionally you are drawn to the other option, right?
You picture yourself in the scene, you see benefits this particular table can bring you – the other table can offer exactly the same features – but emotionally you have already made a decision. That’s how strongly emotions affect our choices. It’s much greater force than a reason alone. That’s why brands refer to storytelling techniques in marketing.
Johnnie Walker is a great storyteller
Another example is Johnnie Walker whiskey. They portrait their brand as a traditional, Scottish artisan company that treasures recipes and keeps them in the family. They are also amazing storytellers. Just check The Man Who Walked around the World video above, where Robert Carlyle takes us on a journey to the Scottish Highlands. The bag pumps fill the air, the mist sits in the mountain ridges and a spellbinding Scottish accent tells us a story. Aren’t you captivated and transported to that scene?
See, they don’t mention any offer – no - this would break the spell. They create an emotional connection with the viewer. They entertain while strengthening traditionally Scottish brand image. They bond with us by the power of words.
Now’ it’s your turn.
Be confident. Believe in your story – tell others to follow you. If you don’t believe in your tale, no one else will. We already know storytelling is more powerful than advertising – after all, we do filter most of the ads we see online. They just tune out of our radar. But stories have a special ability to connect with us.
Human factor is important too – no it’s not like you want to be friends with customers, but show a human face behind a brand – look how Co-op and Asda feature their staff in the TV commercials. That’s also part of the story. Find what fits with your brand message – and consistently use it with the right tone of voice, images and colors. Branding also spreads to social media and newsletters.
If you are not sure how to craft a story to capture your viewer’s imagination, hire freelance content writers to do it for you for a fraction of time it would take you to achieve similar results.
Story can trigger good or bad emotions and it’s hard to strike the right chord. Remember that people don’t buy products – they buy how you make them feel. Do you know how your customers want to feel?
Freelance Content Strategist. Helping brands find a right voice, one story at a time. Passionate about animal onesies, meaningful conversations and well-spoken people
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