The Psychology of Brand Storytelling

Psychological research has shown that consumers rarely make purchase decisions based on facts and figures but instead primarily rely on emotion because most buying decisions are either too complex or too trivial to be made rationally. Storytelling is the most effective communication tool brands can use because great stories quickly grab attention and create emotional connections, leaving lasting impacts.

Telling Personal Stories

One excellent way of crafting a strong brand story is to focus on personal stories to which people can relate. A marketer’s job is to make people notice things they do not want or need to pay attention to. Focusing on people makes brand stories more relatable and thus more enticing; if a customer can relate to your story, they immediately form an emotional connection to your brand.

Nike does an exceptional job of this; each Nike ad tells a story of triumph, empowerment, inclusivity, and inspiration, showing athletes and individuals alike triumphing over adversity and fighting for what they believe in.

In 2018, Nike launched its “Dream Crazy” campaign. The campaign video tells the stories of famous athletes, including Usain Bolt, Lebron James, and Serena Williams, and their aspirations as youths. The video encourages its viewers to “dream crazy,” just as all famous athletes once did. Aside from famous athletes, the video also depicts several amateur athletes, such as Isaiah Bird, a young wrestler born without legs showing off his success, reinforcing that nothing is impossible when goals are set high.

This campaign was highly successful, generating massive earned media and winning several awards. By tying their brand story to people’s unique stories of triumph, Nike successfully convinced millions of consumers to dream bigger, proving that telling personal stories is a reliable way to inspire and create emotional connections with consumers.

Connecting to a Cause

Another way of inspiring customers is by attaching your brand story to a powerful social cause. Now, more than ever, consumers are concerned with impact brands. In a world where social responsibility is at the forefront of society’s collective consciousness, consumers are highly inclined to be inspired by a brand whose social mission they believe in and can support.

For example, Tentree is a Canadian men’s and women’s apparel company with an environmental mission. The company plants ten trees for each garment customers buy, hence the name. The company also sustainably sources all materials, addressing waste at each product lifecycle stage.

Tentree’s mission empowers customers to make a positive impact in the world. As founder Derek Emsley stated: “At the end of the day, we’re not planting trees, it’s the person that’s purchasing the product. You want to feel it. We’re just the vehicle that’s making it possible.” Allowing customers to participate in your mission creates an immediate and deep emotional connection with the brand, empowering and inspiring customers. In only nine years of operation, Tentree has sold millions of products, planting over 73 million trees, a testament to the effectiveness of this strategy.

Empowering Customers

Finally, aspiration is an essential way of inspiring and connecting with customers. If a brand can make its story aspirational, it can encourage customers to identify with them. To illustrate, creativity is a highly sought-after skill; it implies intelligence, inventiveness, and originality, all things people aspire to.

Apple embodies this better than any other brand. The company was founded on a creative philosophy, striving to “think different”. Apple challenges the status quo and demonstrates this through many of its product innovations. In everything they do, Apple demonstrates inventiveness and creativity and provides customers with the tools to embody this. This philosophy has created an image for customers to strive toward. If you want to inspire customers, tailor your brand story to be aspirational; make your brand embody something people can strive towards and provide them with the tools to achieve it.

Creating a compelling brand story is essential for companies to excite, engage, and connect with customers. People are emotional decision-makers, and stories are a reliable way to draw on one’s emotions. To create a brand story, marketers must shift their communication focus away from products and focus on intangible features of a brand.

How to Create a Brand Story

Of the three brands previously mentioned, to whom were they most similar, brand A or B? Did they play it safe, or did they strive to become bigger than simply a company? Each brand previously discussed has something in common; they all established a powerful story that transformed their brands into catalysts of inspiration.

When Nike asked customers to “dream crazy,” people listened. When Apple encouraged people to think differently, they did, and when Tentree told people that their next t-shirt could plant ten trees, millions of people became engaged.

If you want to inspire your customers, use personal stories; this makes your brand more exciting and relatable. Give your brand a mission and empower your customers to support this mission. Purpose-driven brands are inspirational, and people enjoy feeling good about their purchases. Finally, strive to make your brand’s story aspirational; success will follow if your brand inspires people to achieve more and empowers them to do so.

Ultimately, having a solid product is not enough to succeed in the long run. Today, brands must represent something meaningful to inspire people and form lasting relationships.

If you’re looking to elevate your company’s brand story, we’re here to help. Kipling Media’s talented team of brand strategists and copywriters are at your service to make your brand pop. Get in touch with us today to discuss your business goals, and we’ll help get you there.