Brand Storytelling – An Art That's Grounded in Science
Your Customers' Interests and Expectations Filter Their Awareness and Attention
Companies like yours are constantly fighting a battle for your prospects' and customers’ attention. The reason it's so hard to cut through the noise is that the human brain filters out roughly 99% of the information and other stimuli we receive even before we become aware of them. This is referred to in cognitive psychology as "selective attention."
The 1% of information and stimuli that make it past those filters to our consciousness and the subset that we actually pay attention to are determined largely by two factors: what we're interested in, and what we are predisposed or conditioned to expect.
To make sure your messages pass through that filter into your audience's attention, everything you put in front of them needs to be relevant to their interests, and you must deliver not only relevance but also value consistently at every interaction so that your audience is conditioned to expect those things from your brand.
You also need to help your audience digest, make sense of, give meaning to, and retain the information you want them to know and remember. That's why effective storytelling is such an important and powerful business tool.
Stories Give Meaning to Facts and Make Them Memorable
As humans, our brains are hard-wired to be interested in, attentive to, and even hungry for stories. We need stories to help us make sense of, and give meaning to, the overwhelming influx of often complex information and other stimuli we receive every second. When we read a well crafted story, the same parts of the brain are activated as if we actually experienced what we're reading about.
Stories also make information memorable. They help us remember what's important much more than an article or presentation that uses logic and supporting facts to build toward an inevitable conclusion (the way we all were taught to write in school). Think about it: The books, articles and movies we remember best, from the Bible to the Star Wars saga, tend to be story-based. The more descriptive and visual the language you use to tell your story, the more your audience can identify with it and the more memorable it becomes.
We sense instinctively whether a story is authentic or fabricated. In order for your audience to trust you, your story needs to be authentic and straightforward.
Identification Engages Intellect and Emotion
Engaging brand stories have central characters and challenging situations that audiences can identify with. The more the audience can relate to the story’s hero, the more they care about him/her, and the more the story resonates with them and becomes compelling and emotionally as well as intellectually engaging. That's why it often can be more effective to make your customer the hero of your brand story.
An engaging story must have drama, created by the struggle or conflict that the main character faces and must overcome. So your brand story should focus on one of the difficult challenges that keep your customers up at night.
Imagination Drives Action
By engaging our emotions as well as our intellects, stories also can be far more persuasive than other forms of communication. Business, like life, is always changing. Stories are focused on how the hero responds to a change that causes conflict or drama. An effective story helps your audience imagine how their difficult situation could be improved by taking an action within their control, which makes them feel empowered. A great brand story motivates your audience to demonstrate the desired behavior – usually responding to a specific call to action – by helping them envision the better future they can create by doing so, enabling them to become the hero of the story within their own company.
(See what we did there?)