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Storytelling Marketing: Why Stories Make The Difference

Stories are part of our neurological architecture, which instinctively shapes our communication

Photo by Victoria Borodinova from Pexels

Why is storytelling important? And what types of storytelling are there? Scientific studies show that storytelling is based on the neurological architecture of humans. Companies therefore have to think carefully about the story they tell with their brand.

What is storytelling marketing?

Storytelling Marketing is a  method of sales management in order to bind the recipients of a target group to a brand using dramaturgical methods and to create meaning as a company.

In storytelling marketing, neutral facts, products and brands are linked with an implicit meaning through narrative codes and emotionally charged for the target group.

A company becomes identity-creating when the brand identity is placed in the media and affects the social as well as the individual identity of the user. The constellation creates a field of tension and can be shaped through storytelling.

Since then, brands like Coca Cola, have become Siemens or Lego as the medium for unique stories about people, adventure and life feelings; it should always know that through storytelling brands get their identity.

Once storytelling was shouted out as a buzzword, 2020 will have no way around it; If you want to be important as a company for your target group, you have to use the mechanisms of the dramaturgy through storytelling marketing to create meaning – with the help of inspiring content or convincing illustrations.

Why storytelling: The foundation of human thinking

Narrative psychology assumes that people define and explain themselves and their environment through stories. The US Professor Dan McAdams describes stories as an identity-tool, with which people “with their desires, beliefs and fears about a series of events deal of time.”

In 1932, Professor Charles Bartlett with his study “War of the Ghosts” at Cambridge University concluded that the experience of a person results in a collection of schemes in the memory, a kind of prehistory, with the help of which the present experiences are interpreted and evaluated. Research shows that Storytelling is not just a method of communication in content marketing, but above all it forms a fundamental pattern of human thinking.

Why is storytelling important for companies?

The scientific knowledge describes the function of stories on two levels. On the one hand, they enable a lasting learning effect, while on the other hand, stories are addressed and released by the recipient’s stories.

Stories are part of our neurological architecture, which instinctively shapes our communication. The focus of advertising is increasingly on people because messages can be transported more effectively. In this way, brand awareness among the target group can be sustainably increased on an emotional and cognitive level.

This leads to the following two intentions of storytelling marketing: 

Inspiration: How can a company inspire the target group? According to the “Study on the Measurement and Effect of Brand Emotions” by Dr. Thorsten Möll when interacting with strong brands, it activates brain regions, which are responsible for processing positive emotions. Weak or even unknown brands, on the other hand, activate brain regions that are responsible for processing negative emotions. Emotions are important. 

According to the Belief Desire theory, addressing human desires and beliefs, and therefore the dramaturgical interplay of these levels, triggers certain emotions. Storytelling marketing aims to link a brand with certain emotions through inspiration.

Storytelling describes nothing more than building expectations, playing with surprises and fulfilling longings. Those who skillfully place their brand in an inspiring story about people with expectations, challenges and triumph give their company, a product or even a person an identity-creating image for their target group. At the same time, research confirms the idea that successful brands stand out from comparable competitors primarily because of their emotional importance for the target group.

Illustration: How can storytelling bind the target group? Storytelling enables the recipient to be cognitively linked to a brand, because people can remember the content of a comprehensible story particularly well. A study by Princeton University found that in human communication, the human brain tries to synchronise with the other person’s thoughts. This is based on the brain’s effort to predict the immediate future using recognisable patterns. According to the study, if people manage to process information as synchronously as possible, the content is memorised particularly well – a principle that explains the successful learning effect through storytelling: after all, stories consist of fixed, repeating patterns.

The famous mythology professor Joseph Campbell discovered a universal formula according to which stories work with his research into myths and stories from different cultures. This applies to the Greek heroic epic as well as to the viral YouTube video with a funny punch line at the end: an impressive story, and therefore the message, always leaves a cognitive echo with the recipient, similar to an actual experience.

Here’s a storytelling example: In its illustrative campaign for the Microsoft Cloud, Microsoft had linked its product, its functions and advantages with a specific event at a specific location: the La Mercè Festival in Barcelona. The commercials give a practical impression of how the Microsoft Cloud helps local people to create a needs-based infrastructure and masters the logistical and technological challenges for effective information management.

Why is corporate storytelling important?

As merely legal entities, companies mostly act like soulless systems without a personal connection to the environment. The example of the Microsoft Cloud advertising campaign shows, however, that corporate storytelling offers every company the opportunity to present itself as a brand with its own stories and to show a face as a system: customers, employees or interest groups – all stakeholders will perceive a company more positively when it becomes the protagonist of a comprehensible story because an action always profiles the agent and the world he represents. If companies focus on human destinies through storytelling in content marketing, they can understandably communicate their values ​​as an institution, create trust and build meaningful appeal.

Convince the target group with storytelling

Storytelling makes it possible to simplify facts with the help of illustration: understandable actions describe causal relationships between cause and effect. Stories are therefore predestined to answer the relevant questions of the target group.

  • How are products used?
  • How does the product stand out from other offers?
  • What is the innovative idea that changes everything?

Anyone who talks about the really important questions and cannot clearly explain his USP will not sell anything. Interchangeable buzzword bingo and flat phrases like “you know what you have” are supposed to be simple, but don’t explain anything. People quickly forget what leaves them with no emotional-cognitive impression and seems incomprehensible.

Whether in the B2C or B2B area, the mechanisms of storytelling can be used to make the practical use and functionality of the product understandable.

By picking up potential conflicts and linking them to a solution, the added value, the USP and the return on investment of a product can be dramatically processed. Explanatory videos work particularly well here as a storytelling medium.

The scientific knowledge of neurology and narrative psychology shows that people define themselves and their environment through stories. Anyone who dramaturgically processes their company, their product and their brand will convey their message better and more sustainably. With the help of inspiration and illustration, storytelling marketing measures give a brand meaning at a cognitive and emotional level – an effect that has been shown to increase consumer attitudes, loyalty, trust and desire for the corresponding product. Research shows that customers look for products, but in the end they buy a story.

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Vishal Agarwal
Written By

Vishal has over three years of experience in digital marketing. With experiences in advance marketing and promotional strategies, he has helped numerous brands establish their online niche with his out-of-the-box internet marketing strategies and lead generation capabilities. He also manages his blog Digitalgarg.

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