WHAT IS Storytelling in Marketing REALLY?

In 2015, Hulten proved that Storytelling influences shoppers in shopping environment to increase purchase intention. This discovery resolved all queries on whether storytelling should be a formal part of marketing activities! Not only that this suggestion was taken up, but many marketing experts have intuited that a merge of brand marketing, native advertisement and storytelling is about to become a regular marketing activity in many creative departments.

What is storytelling in marketing really?

Storytelling is a great marketing advantage!!!

This article dives deep in the advantages of storytelling, as it bridges the brand and the consumer through intricate emotional ties that help covey marketing communication in a non-aggressive fashion, building a relationship, entertaining your audience, and improving the brand image remarkedly! As you read this article, you will learn to appreciate a different style of advertisement, one that increases Customer satisfaction and will eventually change your CVP (Customer Value Proposition).

Storytelling definition

Storytelling is an effective means of external communication to transfer organizational culture and leadership styles to attract the attention of consumers and promote participation.

A less technical definition would be: Storytelling is the communication of a message in such a way that it is emotionally charged and packed in a fable that makes the content very powerful, resonating, and memorable in the long run.

Stories have an archetypal effect on Humans. They are highly immersive, as an experience, and it is impossible to for the listener not to identify with the Hero (main character) in the story. Advertisers seek actively to create stories that are engaging and imbue the brand, the product, and the company inside this story.

Stories do wonders for popular brands. All good-standing brands use it. Coca-Cola, Nike, Amazon, Apple, Google, etc. This is not a discovery, we’ve known about the effects of storytelling on humans since the dawn of humanity. What is new is the marketing campaigns that are developed – ever-so cleverly – to create the powerful Contextual Effect that puts the Brand, company, and product in a good light.

The act of creating the context of the story in marketing is so complex and difficult, that small business owners and entrepreneurs often stand no chance to re-create the contextual brand marketing using storytelling in marketing efforts for their products and services. Indeed, it takes a team of experts, many revisions, feedback from focus groups, etc. This is one of the reasons why we are writing about the topic of storytelling in marketing.

storytelling in marketing - how books and marketing relate

Companies engage with their target audiences, using Storytelling as their tool, to inspire and motivate consumers to buy more and exhibit loyalty in the long run. It is proven that storytelling has a long effect as the story, itself, is easy to memorize and the viewer has identified with the main character. Therefore, companies are often interacting with actors, artists, fashion designers, novelists, writers, and journalists; attempting to expand these stories and create even more immersive experiences.

How can I implement Storytelling as a Marketing Action into my arsenal of outreach activities?

Enter: Narrative Advertisement

The Narrative Ad is an Ad presented in the form of a story; this presentation has a different effect from other types of Ads. Consumers relate to the content with self-experiences – after receiving the external information – and create their self-identities.

Storytelling In brand development is when a brand contains cultural meaning and the functions of self and group identity. Thus, Storytelling aims to deliver brand value! Brand stories of enterprises help in strengthening positive brand association.

The effects are both cognitive and emotional. However, it is the emotional attachment through self-identification and relating to the experiences of the main characteristics that make the Narrative Advertisement so powerful and desirable for your marketing activities.

mythology storytelling and brand marketing

Mythology and Religion have endured this far because of the storytelling nature they contain. These great stories resonate with our day-to-day lives and keep us bound to their symbols. Even after 2,000 years, the stories of Jesus and the Buddha survive, to be retold a thousand times again! You would be deceived to think that big corporations don’t use these psychological tricks to ensure you buy more products:

Carl Jung is an authority in studying the effects of symbols on humankind. His suggestion is that we intuit certain aspects of life naturally and we can relate to these stories because we have them ingrained in our subconscious mind.

Narrative Advertisement in content marketing

A Narrative is the basic mode of an organizational schema represented in the forms of language, paintings, dance movements and music.

So, how do you use Narrative Ads in your marketing campaigns?

One easy way is using Content Marketing. Content and copywriting are very powerful tools to influence the emotional brain in Humans. When combined with Website colors, and Page moods, it can depict the exact atmosphere that represents your brand. Professional Website Designers know how to merge brand marketing and website marketing – to present this unique experience that is immersive. Additionally, you can use Blog Posts to test a few stories, and the analyze and get the necessary feedback from Users; in order to improve and zero in on the Right Story that resonates with your audience.

Once you have found your Story, it is time to repurpose your blog posts and use Social Media Marketing to publish Story Snippets, Posts, Videos, Pictures, etc. for your audience online. This will help you maintain your audience engaged with your content as they will memorize your brand and Social Media Profile. Don’t forget to interact with your audience on social media platforms, as this will help you to continuously improve your Story and Brand Image.

Vivid stories enable consumers to imagine events and brand images in their minds. On one hand, we have the attention of the consumer; on the other hand, a conflict in the story gets the consumer emotionally involved. Think about Drama.

Narrative Ads, hence, influence people’s emotions, motivation, attitudes and, ultimately, purchase intention!

Narrative Ads must contain your product in them otherwise it won’t cause increased purchase intention!

Using Context marketing to present the brand

Brands always go to the background of a story. Failing to do so, will make the Narrative Ad just another Ad – boring, touting, aggressive.

Here are the points that must be met before introducing the product or service you are offering to your customers:

  1. Outline the Hero Journey (Ordinary Life ➜ Call to Adventure ➜ Challenge ➜ Expanding the Limits ➜ Facing the Fear ➜ Victory ➜ Return to Ordinary Life)
  2. Choosing the Right Hero Attributes – based on your Customer Persona
  3. Setting the right Context (colors, backgrounds, sounds, smells, mood, ambient, etc.) – must coincide with your Brand Image

As an entrepreneur or a small business owner, you want to use your web pages to assimilate the context that embodies your brand image. There are multiple ways you can do that. For example:

  • Priming the website visitors using the Testimonials of previous customers
  • Framing your online shoppers at the product pages
  • Anchoring website visitors using short surveys

You can clearly see how storytelling is actively avoiding offering products and services. storytelling in marketing is about bringing the consumer closer to your brand. It is not about providing solutions, but rather experiences and emotional connection.

Narrative Ads – Airbnb Example:

Airbnb has a series of Narrative Ads where they use storytelling to get closer to the customer. These are really creative Ads that made this company rank up at the top of the corporative marketing – making them one of those organizations that fully understand the customer and are able to depict the brand with extreme efficacy and accuracy:

How do your customers benefit from storytelling in Marketing?

1. It is easier for them to understand the value contributed by your product.

2. It is easier to memorize the product brand and what value it represents

3. They can relate to your story through personal experiences, which makes it easier to stay attentive.

So what’s the story behind your product?

Suggested reads:

What is Storytelling IN Marketing?

about the author


Višnja is a passionate digital marketing advocate that works with Aleph as an author, contributor, and consultant to our clients. She has a degree in psychology and a knack for content marketing.

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