Why Our Brains Love a Good Story
Think back to the last story you read. Did you visualize the scenes in your mind, picture what the characters looked like, and imagine yourself in the story with them?
Humans have been telling stories since the beginning of time, and it's lasted this long for a reason. We are designed to be receptive to stories. Our brains can visualize the story and place ourselves within it.
Storytelling is so compelling due to the science behind it. The genetic makeup inside our brains responds strongly to a good story, which is why brands are seeing success and value in telling a good brand story.
Not every brand knows their story, but every brand should. Luckily, forming and telling your brand’s story is a lot easier than you think. Founders, presidents, and CEOs are the drivers behind a brand’s story. They are steering the organization with a vision and strategy, and the information inside of their vision can translate into a well-crafted brand story.
Let’s walk through why storytelling is impactful for the human brain, why brands are using it today, and go over some great resources to help you form your own.
Our Brains are Wired for Storytelling
There is no telling exactly when the first stories of mankind were told, but they have certainly been around for thousands of years. Some of the earliest recorded stories in history were written on cave walls. That raises the question - why have we been telling stories for so long? Well, our brains are naturally designed to process and retain large amounts of information when shown in a storytelling format.
Storytelling is something that even babies can understand. From the time we are born, storytelling is the first form of teaching we experience. Stories allow the youngest of minds to process, retain, and recall large amounts of information - such as numbers, colors, shapes - all within a couple of years.
Stories follow a straightforward format. Every story has the same five essential components:
The elements of a story do a couple of powerful things to our brains. The first, it allows our minds to visualize what is happening and place ourselves within the story to see what the characters see. The second, hearing a good story releases oxytocin, or the “feel good” hormone. Combined, these benefits of storytelling will make people more likely to engage and take action.
How Brands Use Storytelling
Consumers are beginning to care less about status and material items, and more about relationships and life experiences. Your brand shouldn’t just sell products and services, you should also be selling the experience that goes along with it. In a world where we have an endless amount of options, we generally tend to favor brands that we can visualize becoming part of and adding value to our day.
Given the benefits of storytelling, brands have recognized value in bringing storytelling into their own marketing strategies. Storytelling is a way for your brand to establish an emotional and authentic connection with your audience. Consumers engage with genuine content more than any other form of branded content, and your brand's story is one of the most authentic things your brand has to offer.
Just as a well-told story can help you retain a lot of information, the same concept can be applied to teaching consumers about your brand. No matter how simple or complex your brand's offering is, telling your brand's story will get your customers to recall more information about you.
Many of the brands you see and interact with today have converted to a storytelling communication style - you may just not realize it. Grammarly is one of the brands using storytelling in such a powerful way. I mean, they do such a good job that their actors do not even speak in their videos.
How to Tell Your Brand’s Story
Your brand already has a story, you just need to determine the best way to tell it. It's always a good idea to find ways to include your customers in the story. The more you involve your customers, the more they can imagine themselves doing business with your brand.
This leads me to the first and most important tip for telling your brand’s story…
Your customer is the hero of your brand’s story, always.
Brands often make the mistake of peacocking themselves to outshine the competition rather than focusing on telling people why it matters. It's not enough to be the world-class leader in your industry if you don't inform your customers why it matters for them, and how it enhances the experience they have with your brand.
The next tip for telling a good story…
Keep it short and valuable.
We all love a good story, but we don’t have time for every story. Our brains are exposed to a lot of information daily, so people are generally more receptive to brand stories that are brief, valuable, and relevant to them. Be respectful of your customers' time, and tell them precisely what they need to hear. Ditch everything that isn’t adding value to your message.
And the final tip for telling an outstanding brand story...
Be authentic and transparent.
Consumers crave authentic content from brands. Establishing a connection with your audience depends on the authenticity of your content. Being an open, honest, and straightforward brand is an excellent way for your brand to be authentic. When you become transparent with your audience, they get a better sense of what it will feel like to do business with your brand before even making a purchase.