Once upon a time, the world was made of stories. They were the first kind of currency, the thing that brought meaning to life. Passed down from person to person, to hear a story was to have knowledge. As the centuries rolled by, the stories found their way onto the page. People read books and discovered new worlds. Stories became the key to unlocking the imagination and books inspired people to learn how to read and write.
Somewhere along the way, stories found their way onto the screen. The public loved watching films and it became a new form of entertainment. But the stories were still stories. With the birth of the internet, stories became something you could consume on a daily basis. The way people chose to engage with the stories had changed, yet the medium remained the same.
In case it wasn’t obvious, I love stories. And you should too. To tell a story is to alter the way a person perceives the world around them. For a moment, you have the power to create a new reality in which a potential customer buys into your brand.
Let me tell you a quick story of stats:
- 92% of consumers prefer media messages to sound like a story.
- Storytelling is about creating images. The brain processes images 60 times faster than it does words.
- As we spend a third of our lives daydreaming, it’s safe to say stories are a basic human need.
So, how can you leverage the power of storytelling to make your brand connect with customers?
A beginning, middle and end
In any good story, a beginning, middle and end is crucial. Also called a three act structure, you’ll need to set up a character or concept, create a conflict the character can overcome and find a way to resolve it.
When thinking about your brand, Act 2 is a great opportunity to think about how you can help the customer. At this stage, you can highlight your target audience, what they’re struggling with and how they need to empathise with what you’re selling.
A great example of a brand who did this effectively was Guinness with their Wheelchair Basketball ad. The ad depicts a group of men playing wheelchair basketball, an inspiring image that highlights the men overcoming their disadvantages. Towards the end, all the men stand up except one, revealing they’d chosen to play in wheelchairs for the sake of their friend. The ad served as a reminder that the choices we make reveal the true nature of who we are. This is classic storytelling at its finest.
Emotions are the basic ingredient of any memorable story. Robert Plutchik’s ‘wheel of emotions’ is an effective way of showing the range of emotions that people are capable of. Each feeling can create a new one and by tapping into this ‘wheel,’ your brand can come up with a story that appeals to a specific emotion.
Have charisma and the courage of your convictions
To indulge a childhood passion for a moment, I grew up watching wrestling. I remember The Rock being one of the most popular wrestlers in the company. When he first came into the WWE, people hated his character. But when he changed his gimmick, he found success. He was a larger than life character who fans bought into because he was able to inhabit the story he created for himself. The Rock went on to become the highest paid actor in the world in 2016.
By immersing yourself fully in the story your brand wants to tell, you’ll be able to connect with your customers. Telling a story that feels natural for your brand creates authenticity. But you should never be afraid of trying something new and having the courage to follow through.