Stories stimulate our brain in ways simple language processing simply does not. The researchers from Emory University conducted an experiment in which the test subjects were asked to listen to elaborate metaphors about texture. The researchers noticed that their sensory cortex (the part of our brain that perceives texture through touch) became active. When subjects listened to simple descriptions that meant the same thing – no activity was detected. The study shows that the human brain experiences stories the same way it experiences real life occurrences, but what does this mean for brand marketing?
Let us look at another study, in which Jennifer Aaker (marketing professor at Stanford University) had her students give a one-minute pitch. Only 10% of the students used a story within their pitch, while the rest only used facts and statistics. Jennifer asked the class to write down everything they remembered about each pitch. While more than 60% of the students remembered a story, less than 5% cited a statistic. Even though our brains are not hardwired to retain facts, as a marketer, you have to find a way to turn your experiences, ideas and data into brand narratives.
Share Both Your Failures and Successes
For starters, you have to be completely open about the level of your success and share both disappointments and triumphs. In 2015, The NFL, McDonald’s and American Apparel all had great comeback stories – all three were hit with massive data breaches, safety and health issues and higher worker wages.
These companies learned that they cannot hide behind their achievements and must be accountable to their employees and customers. As Wendi Weiner (The Writing Guru)puts it in this Forbes article, your brand has to be seen as a “well-rounded character”, with both strengths and flaws.
Use Your Website and Social Media
Your story has to be consistently told through visual and written content across multiple platforms, so you have to be careful about every detail. Your website is your calling card, so you have to pay special attention to everything from your logo and color scheme (first impressions are 94% design-related) to the domain name. For example, if you want your company to have a more “personal feel” to it, consider having a domain.me extension. Furthermore, while social media is great connecting with your consumers, a recent Refinery29 experiment showed that storytelling on Facebook could have a big impact on your sales as well. Refinery29 sequenced their Facebook ads like stories and saw a 56% conversion boost and a 10% increase in online sales.
Conclusion – Use the Power of Stories to Create Trust
The fact is more than 50% of people (according to Havas Media research) do not trust brands, so it is therefore very important to enhance brand awareness. Researchers at Princeton University claim that the listener’s brain activity mirrors the storyteller’s activity. Storytelling produces understanding, comprehension and receptivity, so by telling a story and connecting to a listener, the storyteller can actually generate trust. Your story has to be the foundation of trust, and the personal experience of your customers will cement that trust into something long lasting.
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