I was 6 then and I was watching my favourite Disney movie. It was 7 in the evening. My mum wanted me to go bed, I just wouldn’t listen… until she held my hand softly and started telling me the story of this little girl in far, far away land… Storytelling shapes the way people relate to one another, it is in our nature. It’s what we choose to devote our time and attention to —from watching movies and reading books, to simply recounting past events to our friends and family—for stories are the way we spark emotion from the time we are kids; Stories are what moves us. To be more human, brands need to embody what moves, excites and inspires people. By drawing on the power of storytelling, brands can leverage an essential tool that connects humans. But how can a brand fully maximize the potential of a compelling story? And why exactly is storytelling so powerful?
Stories are much more than simply a plot; the plot of a story acts as a vehicle to entertain and ignite emotion while proving a set of values to the reader. This dynamic aligns perfectly with human behavior, because people are naturally inclined to derive value from the activities they engage in. Furthermore, we have a tendency to emotionally insert ourselves into captivating stories so that we can have a shared, common experience that lasts.
Brands should strive to have a strong impact on people’s emotions because emotional motivation is the most powerful influencer. By leveraging the power of storytelling, brands will gain a human connection to their audience. Brands give life to the business behind them; but what will help the business thrive is the emotional connection from which people derive value.
Now the question is, how can we translate the elements of a story into those of a brand? Stories carry an underlying message, and so should brands. At its core, a brand has a unique driving idea. To make that brand idea tangible, brands should instill themselves with a set of values that they pursue. Surprisingly (or perhaps not) this pursuit of demonstrating values parallels what gives a story its “deeper meaning”, beyond just a plot. So, aren’t stories then the natural vehicle for a brand to communicate? Once we realize that storytelling is a powerful way for brands to interact with people, what expectations should a brand meet to create a compelling story?
The overarching idea of leveraging storytelling as a brand lies in valuing people’s time and attention and not acting intrusive or self-centered. A compelling brand story will also embark on the Social side of business giving people space to share and to shape the story. And because people like discovering new things, but also enjoy the comfort of familiarity, a compelling story will give them inspiration as much as reassurance. But lets not forget about authenticity. A brand will only live up to the expectations it sets by truly committing to the story it embodies.
All in all, a brand needs to be worthy of people’s time and attention, it should find and create a story that people welcome. Any action perceived as self-centered or intrusive would only create major obstacles that the brand will then need to overcome in order to resonate with people.