The power of brand storytelling


Branding is the practice of managing the meaning of a product, service or organisation. The more meaning a brand has the more it will resinate with consumers and the more consumers will join the brand on it's journey. In this article we explore the number one way of adding meaning to anything - stroy telling.

Adding meaning

The questions every business and organisation should be asking are; “how do we add meaning to everything we are doing”? Not only that but; “how can we communicate that meaning effectively?”. The answer? Through telling great stories. Stories are how humans have been attaching meaning to themselves, their surroundings and the tools and products they use since recorded history. It is the most ancient form of managing meaning and it is as relevant today as ever before because although the technologies humans use change, human nature does not change. Stories are built into the way we think. They are how we learn, how we attach emotions to things, how we make sense of the world around us and how we connect together. It is also how we remember things. They are a fundamental human communication method.

Below, social psychologist Jennifer Aaker a Professor of Marketing at Stanford Graduate School of Business explains the power of stories:

 

 

What a great case to focus on story and emotion as opposed to cold fact. On the why rather than the what.

A picture is worth a thousand words

Visual storytelling (communication ideas through a relatively simple visual aid) has been a cornerstone of marketing for hundreds of years. “A picture is worth a thousand words” is such a true saying. We see what we want and we’re driven to buy it. Therefore for any brand it is essential to consider what ‘story’ they are telling with the way they present their brand, how they speak and the story that they tell in the visual cues they present to their audience.

Consumer behaviour and emotion

In an article within Psychology Today, the consumer psychology expert Peter Noel Murray, highlights the influential role that emotion plays in consumer behaviour. In four points he shows the importance of marketing storytelling:

  • When evaluating brands Functional MRI neuro-imagery shows that consumers primarily use emotions rather than information to make decisions.
  • Advertising research has shown that consumers are more likely to buy a product because of the emotional response they feel to an advert, as opposed to the information and content of the adverts offer.
  • According to research conducted by the Advertising Research Foundation, the emotion of “likeability” is the measure most predictive of whether an advertisement will increase a brand’s sales.
  • Studies show positive emotions toward a brand have far greater influence on consumer loyalty than trust and other judgments, which are based on a brand’s attributes.

 

With this research we see that a person’s feelings and experiences have far more of an influence on them making a purchase, than the brand attributes, features and facts of the offer. It’s essential then that the way a customer ‘experiences’ a brand becomes a focus point in a company’s marketing. Customers want to know what your brand believes in. They want to connect on an emotional level. Telling a story around “why” you do what you do and not just presenting “what” you do is therefore crucial.

A brand is a story

The same article from Psychology Today goes on to state: “Another important foundation for the emotions that a brand evokes can be found in its “narrative” – the story that communicates “who” it is, what it means to the consumer, and why the consumer should care. This narrative is the basis for brand advertising and promotion. When everything is stripped back a brand, like a person, is simply a story. We are defined by the stories we tell... and that are told about us. And brands are part of that story”.

So - is your brand telling a story? If so what story? Is it clear to consumers why you do what you do and not just what you do. Are you able to unlock their emotions in order to unlock their wallets? Telling a great story through well thought through visual language is an essential component of modern branding. You firstly need to discover your story, know who you are and what you stand for - and then tell that story through how you present each aspect of your business and customer experience.