The human mind is programmed to love stories.
If you remember your childhood, there is a great chance you were, like many children: a story lover!
“…Please, daddy tell me a story so I can sleep well…”
There is no doubt that stories can trap our minds and get our full concentration.
But what’s the reason behind that?
What is the mental process that makes us aspire to an object, a place or a person through its storytelling?
When we listen to a story, we identify with its protagonists. We immerse ourselves in their part, mirroring their emotions. We bond emotionally and this leads to an unconscious response that is reproduced in our vision of daily life.
The art of telling stories that stick in our mind, soul and dreams.
That’s why the story behind a brand is vital. And most of the time the story behind the brand is personified by the story of its founder. So we all bond with Amazon for Jeff Bezos’ exciting story, who from the creation of a simple website to sell books becomes the entrepreneur at the head of the largest world marketplace. We all love apple products because, in part, we admire and still get excited thinking of the life of its founder. We are impressed with companies like Tesla and Space X, aside from their amazing technologies, because we appreciate Elon Musk and his brilliant story.
And here the story becomes a profound element of differentiation. We probably wouldn’t have the same conception of these brands if their history and that of their founders had been different.
It is true that we all have stories, and maybe even exciting ones, but how good are we at communicating them?
This is where good storytelling comes in. Telling your story or that of your brand so well that the public will love it.
The type of communication must be such as to develop an emotional response in the listener’s brain. Empathy and imagination will ignite the Limbic System. And therefore the structures that compose it:
- The Hypothalamus, in charge of controlling the emotional response.
- The Amygdala, that controls emotions in the surrounding space, such as fear and anger.
- The Limbic Cortex, that affects mood and happiness levels.
- The Hippocampus, that helps preserve and retrieve memories.
Brain behaviour facing analytical data vs Brain behaviour facing stories:
Neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine, are the chemical messengers within our brain.
The different areas of the brain receive these signals by recognising the surrounding world and emotionally evaluating it in order to guide our actions according to a balance of risks and dangers (since the main purpose of our brain is always to keep us safe). The limbic system is so-called because it is found as a link between two parts of the brain, the Neocortex (the part of the brain that allows us to think and rationally process emotions) and the Brainstem (the part of the brain that unconsciously keeps us alive).
These neurobiological aspects are important as they allow us to give a scientific explanation of why in some circumstances we get so involved in stories.
In this regard, the use of storytelling in the presentation of our product on the market can drastically change the impression in the consumer’s mind. A good story can help us sell more and at a higher price. Let’s consider, for example, the case of Voss water.
Voss is selling more than just a bottle of water. As their statement said, “it’s what’s on the inside”. As if to underline the intrinsic value of their product, in terms of quality and history. They are selling you the story of the Norwegian artesian water, perceived as pure in opposition to an increasingly polluted world. In this way, they manage to sell a 37.5 cl bottle of water for € 3.70 (€ 9.87 / L) more than 4000% respect to almost any other brand on the market.
This is how much powerful the storytelling can be. Of course, not every type of person will buy this kind of water. But for a specific target, this type of positioning will resonate in the market.
Another great example of the incredible value that stories can add to our items is shown by Rob Walker’s experiment conducted on eBay in 2009. Rob bought a bunch of products for around $1 each and asked to different readers to write a short story for each item. He then put those items up for sale on eBay, accompanying them with those invented stories.
In the end, he managed to sell all the products between $30 and $150 dollars each, for a total of $3,000+ in sales.
“A story is remembered 22 times better than a fact” Jerome Bruner (1915– 2016)
Moreover stories if well shared will improve the consumption experience of the customers. Think, for example, when you to a restaurant. If the waiter or the owner comes along telling the story of the place, the concept of their cuisine or the tradition of how the business was founded, there is a great chance that your experience will improve and will stick in your memory.
Within successful stories, we can identify distinctive traits that often repeat themselves.
One above all, the path of the “Hero”.
The common man who falls from grace due to countless adversities suffers then finds the strength to get up and finally triumphs. This would be a classic Hollywood script. Right?!
But in fact, we can also use this approach when we communicate the history of our brand. We start from an aspiration that collides with an adverse situation; there is a conflict and in the end, our brand (which must represent the good, in the collective imagination) will triumph over difficulties. If the aspirations of our brand are shared by the consumer, there is a great chance that the consumer will feel empathy, and therefore an appreciation for our brand.
“The word convinces, the emotion drags”
Certainly, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a story of “suffering and triumph”, but the focus should be on conveying emotions. The consumer reading our story must become passionate, he must then identify with the principles that the brand wants to pursue through this history. In this way, our history can truly become a distinctive factor within the market, obtaining a significant positioning in the consumer’s mind.