If you think back to your childhood, we bet the vast majority of us had a favourite story. One we can still recount almost perfectly even when years have passed since we first heard it told.
Although most of us won’t even remember what we had for breakfast this morning, somewhere, hidden in the depths of our minds, we still keep a firm grasp on the stories we love, and – most importantly – cling to the way that they make us feel.
Stories take us on the journey with them. They transport and transcend. We may start off as the young innocent hero, setting out into the world on an adventure. Then, over the course of the narrative we face obstacles and revelations, which we bravely overcome, and by the end of the tale, we return home wiser and having grown as a person. When a story is told well, we feel the protagonist’s pain and joy in equal measure, as if it’s happening to us first hand, and when a story is at it’s best, that emotional connection stays strong no matter how many times we might hear it.
We might all enjoy different types of story, but that one defining principle remains the same throughout – stories spark emotion, and emotion empowers. Emotion endures.
Emotion drives our decision making, and it’s really what makes us all who we are. 95% of our purchases are driven by emotion, so if you want to get a customer on board with your brand, you really need to aim for an emotional connection, and there’s no better way to do that than through a good story.
Twist in the tale
We are bombarded with information on a daily basis. Stories stand out, they grab our attention and cut through the noise. The human mind is wired to seek out stories, constantly looking for a reference point, something to relate to, a social norm to follow. Stories, in particular stories about people like ourselves, provide that much needed anchor by which we can judge our decisions. Perhaps more importantly, a well told story can keep our attention longer than the 0.25s it takes to scroll past an instagram post or the 0.5s we take to make a decision about staying on a website.
Stories can act as a prime. Unconsciously preparing us for a decision to come and placing the required outcome closer to the front of our minds.
They also help us to break down lots of information into smaller chunks, making it easier to recall at a later stage. Think about Sergei, the meerkat. In his heyday we were more interested in his next adventure than what he was talking about. But when we needed to compare some insurance quotes, up he would pop as a little (annoying) reminder in our minds, directing us exactly where we needed to go..
A tale as old as time
Consistency is key to building a sustained emotional connection with your audiences.
We all know how hard it can be to follow a plot that’s constantly changing direction, introducing new characters and leaving questions unanswered. So, make sure your brand narrative is consistent, no matter the platform you’re communicating on, so it’s easily recognisable as you.
The brands with the best recognition are the brands that have kept their story consistent. Take Nike, for example. In all of their advertising campaigns over the past 20 years, they’ve kept the blatant promotion to a minimum, and instead focused on the heroes of their ads, the sports men and women achieving feats they never thought possible. Nike cleverly position themselves as the supportive sidekick, always present to support the protagonist on their journey, but never placing any doubt in the audience’s minds about who the true hero is.
Nike’s ads have become so iconic that they’re instantly recognizable, even with the only reference to the brand being the flash of their trademark tick at the end of the clip. It’s because Nike has stuck to their successful formula of telling powerful stories without placing the focus on themselves, that their advertising is so recognisably them.
Consistency does not mean stuck in a rut. Ensuring that your story reflects the narrative of the world it operates in is incredibly important. The message may change but the way it is conveyed and the emotion it invokes should remain the same.
A new direction
There’s no better marketing tool that lends itself to telling powerful stories than social media.
Through social, brands are finding the possibility to engage audiences and create that emotional connection in new ways, which until the past few years, weren’t possible. With the huge increase in popularity of social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter and most recently, TikTok, the audience now find themselves able to interact with those brand stories directly for the first time, and – in the most successful cases – tell them for the brand.
The best influencers are successful when they’re reflective of their audience. When we see ourselves in an influencer and we can relate to their story – their trials and triumphs are familiar to our own lives – we form a deeper emotional connection with that person, themselves now a marketable brand. Other brands can then buy that influence and storytelling power, and use it to open their own brand story up to a new audience, with their favourite influencer as the main character.
In the words of J.K. Rowling, the stories we love best live with us forever, so clarifying your brand’s story and starting to tell it is key if you want to build a long-lasting emotional connection with a customer, which will in turn empower them to support your brand and retell your story themselves.
Let us help you tell your story; get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.