Brand Storytelling, Part 2: How Emotions & Attachment Bring it to the Next Level

Brand Storytelling, Part 2: How Emotions & Attachment Bring it to the Next Level

Christine Oneto
October 1, 2014

As suggested in my last post on brand storytelling for business, stories should always include more than just facts; they need to tell a compelling story in order to pull readers in.  True brand attachment evokes emotion from our consumers and, while that can be a double-edged sword (as Apple found in September), that sort of attachment is what makes for a good long-term relationship with a customer.

Emotion is the Key to Good Storytelling

An interesting definition of storytelling comes from screenwriter, Pilar Alessandra: “Story(telling) is action plus emotion. It’s a series of interesting choices strung together, incited by emotion or resulting in emotional consequences.” In short: “Concept = idea. Plot = the events that express that idea. Story = concept + plot + emotion.”

In marketing our products and services, however, sometimes we forget to add in the emotion part of the equation. This part is important because it often will give the reader a greater reason to care, as opposed to simply concepts and plots.  Inserting emotions, quotes and person-to-person or person-to-brand examples help give your story that relatable element, which in turn helps your reader connect in a meaningful way.

To take it even deeper, that emotion usually involves a main character or anchor in your story. “Essentially, storytelling, (and that includes PR), is having a point of view or theme focusing on one person or thing — the hero– and taking your audience on that hero’s journey through trials and tribulations to arrive at some new point, but now changed,” says Robbie Vorhaus, PR storytelling expert. So, in PR we are using a type of classic storytelling to lead our reader-clients down a path ending in changing their point of view (often via emotional connection) about a certain topic, specific company, product or service.

Address a Customer’s Pain or Solve Their Problem

A good story can drive people to a CTA far better than a data-heavy piece of advertising copy. Another key is that elements of the story or the inspirational message within it can be crafted to address a problem or pain point the customer has which your product or service actually solves. To quote Seth Godin, “Corporate marketing is the story of your product built into your product. The ad might be part of it, the copy might be part of it, but mostly your product and your service and your people are all part of the story.” So true, and the key element within that is your people, who can contribute to solving those customer problems. By injecting emotion into your brand storytelling, you can hook your readers and make them brand evangelists or advocates towards that end. How well we can do this in PR will determine how successful we will be.

Examples of Brand Storytelling Done Right

So, what are some examples of those who are doing storytelling right? — To see an infographic showing the top 20 storytelling brands, find it here.   One example from this list is Cadbury. Their ‘Moments of Joy’ campaign has included different memorable ads as well as marketing tactics. They recently ran a campaign stunt where they staged a take over of the UK’s largest digital screen at Waterloo Station.

For this, they implemented an augmented reality game where players could interact with virtual objects to win bars of chocolate, on the spot. Not only was the game fun to watch, it left everyone involved (even some airport security agents) with a “feel good” impression of the brand.  The “hero” in this instance, being the Cadbury fans, themselves!

It also goes to show that when using storytelling for brands, it is okay—maybe even preferred – to go outside of the traditional even if you are a traditional brand. Rather than just a story on a page (or webpage, in most cases), using an interactive stunt or campaign will almost always be more memorable.

Personal Impact Goes a Long Way for Brand Storytelling

Another great example of storytelling was the Google ad for its all-encompassing apps platform that depicted a father telling “stories” to his daughter, by starting an email chain to her via a Gmail account started when she was first born: from her first laugh, to first ski trip, first swim lesson, and on it went, incorporating YouTube and other Google apps, too. The Dear Sophie’ campaign was so popular it generated over 10 million views on YouTube. It goes to show that a personal, emotional story is worth its weight in gold. It also proves that giving people a platform to tell their own, emotion-rich stories can increase the brand storytelling experience.

Finally, sharing these campaigns and the result of them on your social media sites is a great way to gain even more exposure, with added eyes on the campaign. Thus, you’re not only using these events or video campaigns, standalone; but also using them as part of an all-encompassing PR or social campaign. This is a strategy that keeps the views and clicks coming, and the fans and customers entertained and engaged. When you tie it all together: a brand’s message, a catchy campaign which gets the customers’ emotions involved, and a social media campaign to spread and amplify it, there is a much greater chance of your campaigns being memorable and impactful.