Story Telling and Branding: Like Peanut Butter and Jelly
When we think about “story time”, many of us think of an afternoon where little children gather around librarians or their teachers in anticipation of a great story. In reality, story time is much more than just a children’s event. Any good marketer, business owner or salesperson, should have a compelling story to tell about their company.
Attendees at the recent CUNA Marketing and Business Development Conference had the opportunity to hear master story teller Kindra Hall describe the irresistible power of strategic storytelling. We learned that Neurologist Paul Zak has proven the theory that a story can actually change brain chemistry. Dr. Zak found in his study that a good story will increase cortisol in the brain, which allows us to be more focused and have a longer attention span. He also found that Oxytocin levels in the brain increase when listening to a well written tale. Who knew?
Unfortunately, too often in business, we tell the same old narrative that describes historical milestones. Ms. Hall explained that a good story is not your tag line or slogan, a history lesson, product brochure, price or rate sheets or high-level principals. A good story happens in a particular moment and includes the very important beginning, middle, and end. A story has emotions, not just information. Finally, a good story has characters to inject emotion, characters that you care about with something at stake.
When a person hears a great story delivered, they co-create one in their mind. They are envisioning the storyteller’s words and adding their own mind’s images to the story. With this inherent process, together, the storyteller and listener come together in a shared space.
It used to be a brand was measured by how well you can tell who you are and what you do. Now, the strength of your brand is measured on how well your customers repeat your story to their network.
Many companies in this modern day can do a better job at writing a narrative that is easy to understand, evokes emotion but more importantly allows others to share with their friends and colleagues. When you’re writing or telling your company’s story, make sure you do not elude to it, TELL it. An excellent example of a “true story” can be read at Soul Carrier, a handbag company. It is a story that will grip you from within the first paragraph so that you’ll want to continue reading and get to the happy ending. Definitely worth a read. After you finish, give it a shot and write your own story. I bet you’ll be encapsulating readers and customers alike in no time. Best of luck!