Storytelling is central to the way we process and understand all facets of life. Not coincidentally, this universal phenomenon is evident in every single culture on Earth. To put it bluntly, our brains are hard-wired to communicate through storytelling.
The rise of our species to the top of the food chain was bolstered by our ability to craft unique stories and narratives that serve to explain, teach, preserve, and entertain. When compared to other animals, humans aren’t particularly fast, strong, or even as smart as we like to think we are.
But we have language.
Our capacity to use language to communicate (and deceive) has enabled us to weave an intricate social web that resulted in the ubiquitous global culture we know today. As it turned out, we didn’t need to be the biggest and the strongest — just the most cooperative.
Cooperation has been at the forefront of every significant human advancement since our humble days as hunter-gatherers. It continues to be perpetuated by our shared stories and mythologies. Storytelling gave us an edge sharper than shark teeth.
Storytelling & Marketing
I could wax philosophical all day about language and culture. But seeing how this is a marketing blog, we’re going to discuss the importance of storytelling in the context of marketing.
Storytelling is an incredibly powerful marketing device. The strongest brands possess an uncanny ability to appeal to our collective mythologies as a means of inciting purchase and loyalty.
Using storytelling in your marketing communications will enable you to drive engagement while fostering a deeper sense of connection — one that enters the realm of marketing psychology and personal identification.
Selling products and services is why businesses exist, but selling a lifestyle is how they achieve longevity.
How Stories Improve Marketing
Storytelling and marketing are two peas in a pod. Through storytelling, we are able to communicate complex ideas in captivating and memorable ways.
Does Nike sell shoes or do they sell an ethos? Does Chick-fil-A sell fast food chicken or excellent customer service?
Building a story around a brand is how businesses segment their products and services from the competition. It’s not a mere matter of presenting carefully constructed messages, it’s more about conveying shared experiences through stories that communicate on a fundamental level.
Storytelling is about the journey.
The Benefits of Storytelling in Marketing
Stronger Brand Messaging
Branding is more than a logo. The various elements of a brand coalesce into a personality that serves to segment the market. By making it apparent to your target audience that your products and services are made especially for them, you can better earn their loyalty.
Brand archetypes are an effective tool for honing brand messaging. It lays out a path towards developing the visual and verbal ways of telling your brand’s story.
Better Content Through Storytelling
Using storytelling can vastly improve the content you create. It breathes life into your brand messaging by making it three dimensional and relatable. In most cases, consumers have infinite options when it comes to deciding where to spend their money.
While some products and services are vastly superior to others, generally speaking, the differences are negligible. By infusing your content creation efforts with a dose of storytelling you can add clarity and depth to the murky marketplace.
Deeper Audience Connection
Storytelling nurtures a deeper connection with the audience. Due to the fact that it’s a fundamental part of the human experience, storytelling has the power to unite people and their causes. By communicating your brand through stories, you can elevate the meaning of your message and solidify how it fits into customers’ lives.
Certain brands (I won’t mention any names) have developed this audience connection so deeply that they have attained a cult-like status. To further improve your audience connection, try using customer personas.
Exploit Different Entry Points
Our media world is more fragmented than ever. On a personal level, this can be an unnerving and endless source of anxiety. But from a marketing perspective, there are more channels than ever to go about targeting and reaching your audience.
It’s important to ascertain which marketing channels best align with your business goals and start figuring out ways to exploit them as potential entry points for commerce. To increase your chances of success, be sure to pair the right content with the right platform.
Learning the art of storytelling takes time and dedication — but it can pay dividends in your marketing efforts. As an added bonus, research suggests that people with strong storytelling skills are more well-liked in their communities and have a greater chance of reproducing.
So there you go.
To help sharpen your storytelling skills, I would recommend you begin by paying attention to the tried and true elements of compelling storytelling. Pixar tells vibrant, well-balanced, and emotionally captivating stories.
Check out this article about Pixar’s 6 Rules for Great Storytelling. Much can be learned from the ways they consistently meet and exceed audience expectations.
Start thinking about your marketing efforts in terms of storytelling. Commit to the practice and you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results. Use these tried and true methods to captivate, incite, and nurture people down the path of the customer journey.