The Importance of Storytelling: Why do we Love Stories?

Do you remember the 2015 Extra Gum commercial?

What if I asked, “do you remember the Extra Gum commercial where two kids fall in love?” If you’ve seen the commercial, then it probably feels like a story you could never forget.

That’s because our brains love stories. Stories actually engage more parts of the brain, which means you are more likely to remember them. Are you going to remember the commercial that flashes the product over again or the story where a piece of gum became the center for a beautiful love story?

Even better, stories create a connection between the storyteller and the listener. When used for public relations and advertising, great storytelling can implant ideas, thoughts and emotions. A study by Princeton scientists found that the storyteller’s and the listener’s brain engages the same way throughout a story.

So, why should consumer brands use stories? Well, stories can help memory retention, plant ideas and help humanize a brand. There are plenty of companies that hit some rocky patches in the eye of the public. Humanizing the brand makes it easier for consumers to identify with it and picture themselves using the product or service. In fact, according to Wyzowl’s 2018 State of Video Marketing survey, 81% of the 570 surveyed consumershave been convinced to buy a product or service by watching a brand’s video. 

Three different approaches to storytelling

  1. Stories surrounding your brand

Uber has had a rough go at things lately, between #DeleteUber, Susan Fowler’s sexual harassment blog, CEO Travis Kalanick leaving and now head of HR Liane Hornsey resigning in the middle of a racial discrimination investigation. At the very least, Uber could use a bit of TLC in the branding department. Here comes Spike Lee. In Spike’s new “joint,” Da Republic of Brooklyn, Spike Lee interviews Uber drivers on the hustle needed to make it in New York City. The series doesn’t overdo it with Uber plugs but rather tells the authentic and fun stories of the people.

  1. Stories surrounding your employees

In an effort to rebrand, Walmart shifts the spotlight to their employees. Employees are a major part of brand identity, as every consumer comes in contact with an employee. The Ripple Effect program increases wages, training and education opportunities. Walmart will even pay college tuition! Traditionally seen as employer branding, Walmart uses employee stories to inspire candidates and gain back the support from consumers. 

  1. Stories that combine brand values and motto, without actually talking about the brand  

Audi’s storytelling takes a different approach. The story created in the advertisement below is like a piece of cinematic art. Audi puts its best foot forward but doesn’t focus on its brand. In fact, there isn’t even a car in the video. Instead, the story focuses on an Olympic snowboarder, Jamie Anderson. Anderson encourages young women to find their own path and what it means to be ‘defining progress.’ 

Great storytelling drives the public relations industry. There are plenty of ways to tell a story but the methods of storytelling are quickly becoming more and more engaging as digital storytelling grows. Ultimately, a company must determine the best approach for their audience.

What are some of your favorite consumer brand stories? Comment them down below.

Brittany Osteen is a senior studying public relations, sports psychology and forensic science at West Virginia University.  Hailing from Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, she is is currently the president of the WVU PRSSA Chapter. Follow@LittleOsteen on Twitter orBrittany Osteen on LinkedIn.

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