With hundreds of millions of companies in the world, the average American is exposed to somewhere between four and ten thousand ads every day (Forbes). With this being the case, how do companies stand out? How do they manage to earn mass popularity, win our hearts, or, at the very least, grasp our attention?
Storytelling is an ancient method that has been used to move us, empower us, and change us before technologically advanced times of mass communication. The world of marketing and advertising capitalizes on this, harnessing storytelling at the roots of its brands, products, and visions for the future. With this in mind, let’s review how storytelling impacts us individually.
From the very start, stories are how we are wired to think and process information. They're how we draw meaning from life. Storytelling involves a significant presence of connection, collaboration, and understanding which, perceived in the right ways, often leads to growth of some kind – whether that be in the form of acquiring a different perspective or learning critical, life-altering knowledge.
We individually connect to stories, seeking ways we can relate to people, experiences, and feelings, whether real or fictional. Finding something to relate to helps us to feel understood and acknowledged – a satisfying experience for a species that constantly seeks validation. Alongside providing a connection for us, storytelling also attracts activity from our more creative right brain, engaging our imaginations psychologically and encouraging mental participation, empathy, and overall connection on a deeper level (Psychology Today). With all of us sharing roots submerged in storytelling, some of the brands we all know and love have capitalized on this psychological understanding of our society, allowing for us to make more personal connections to the messages, missions, and visions they stand for.
Brands that place a heavy emphasis on storytelling don’t just sit in our minds as companies with products or services; instead, imaginative experiences with these brands surface within our minds and allow us to recall brand-related touch points such as emotionally dense slogans like “Love. That's what makes a Subaru a Subaru” or powerful emotions that we associate with that brand such as love, joy, or fear.
Looking at Walt Disney’s relationship with storytelling, I believe people have such a strong connection the company because of its emotional power. It's a brand that has us individually convinced magic is “real” because you feel it when interacting with Disney products and services. I personally relate to the stories and emotions of the well-known and loved Disney characters and am filled with joy when I get to experience child-like magic again when I experience their stories. Though the company seems to mainly target children, it’s really for people of all ages because we are all connected by stories, an aspect the brand utilizes in every branch of its company.
Another strong example of brand storytelling that comes to mind is Dove, particularly how it uses its methods of storytelling to relate to consumers. Dove is known for creating several impactful campaigns that change our minds on how we perceive beauty. As a result, these campaigns leave us feeling more confident in our own kinds of beauty and help us to form emotional attachments to the brand that sees us as beautiful no matter our shape, color, or age. This sincere approach to the human experience with beauty is a brilliant display of brand storytelling, as the campaign significantly impacts both the brand and the world. The “Real Beauty” campaign, for example, increased Dove's product sales by 1.5 billion dollars and won two ad awards.
Because storytelling is such an effective form of communication and connection with the human race, brands are starting to realize the connections that they can make with people by telling simple, relatable stories. In our minds, these brands stand out among the rest and establish not only a respect for the entirety of the company but also a place in our hearts that makes us feel like a part of the brand. As we look to the future and technology enhances the ways that stories can be crafted and shared, we should expect to see more brands recognizing the importance of storytelling and how they can use their unique backgrounds, visions, and messages to earn our attention and, most importantly, our loyalty.
Emily Severance is a senior at Texas Christian University, graduating in May with a major in Marketing and a minor in Writing. She is the Account Planner for the Pink Team at Roxo and her passions include research, writing, and bringing creative strategy to strong teams. Outside of working with her amazing Roxo team, she spends time socializing with friends, writing fiction, and traveling around the country.