The Science of Storytelling, Part 3

Over the past few day we have looked at the science of storytelling. You’ve seen how your brain reacts to storytelling and the power of emotion in purchase decisions. If you didn’t before, hopefully you now see how important storytelling is.

The next step is to look beyond the science of storytelling. Since you know it works, you now have to implement it. But that can be difficult, even for veteran content marketers.

Now we pose this question:

How do you effectively tell your story?

The Magic Answer!

We need to establish this first: there isn’t a magic answer for how you should tell your story. Like most things in marketing, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for brand storytelling.

However, that doesn’t mean you should give up and hang your head. There are still quite a few things you can learn without having some kind of magic answer. These guidelines will help you more effectively tell your story.

Let’s take a few minutes to go over some basic guidelines of storytelling.

1. It doesn’t have to be fiction.

When marketers write or speak about storytelling, they are almost always talking about telling your audience a fictional tale. However, that isn’t always necessary. Not every story you tell has to be created from scratch.

Real stories with real people and actual events are just as effective as fiction. Sometimes these are even more poignant and striking than those that you might make up in a meeting room.

Just remember, great stories aren’t always fiction.

2. Tell the truth.

Honesty and transparency are extremely important in brand storytelling. As a storyteller, you may craft fictional stories, but they still need to be rooted in reality. They need to relate who you are and why you’re doing what you do.

That’s the whole point of storytelling.

Much like Susan Guenlius wrote in her Forbes article about storytelling, the three key elements of a good brand story are:

  • Consistency
  • Persistence
  • Restraint

If you are creating inconsistent brand stories, you can confuse your customers. They will turn away from your brand in search of another who meets their expectations.

3. Simple is better than complicated.

A complicated story can be a lot of fun. There are both fiction and non-fiction stories that are wonderfully told and massively complicated. You know, the real page turners with twists and turns throughout.

As fun as they are, that shouldn’t be your brand’s story.

Your brand story needs to be simple. This is true for both the plot and verbage. Don’t rely on hugely complicated story, because those aren’t the ones that stick. Using simple language, as well as low complexity plot points, are the best way to activate the brain regions that make us relate to the story.

Tell the story as simply as possible.

4. Don’t give suggestions.

We’ve all met those people who are stubborn. The ones you can argue with all day and never reach a successful conclusion. One of the best ways to get these people behind your idea or plan is to tell them a story.

You remember Dr. Uri Hassan from our last post, right? Well, Dr. Hasson actually supports the idea of brand’s telling a story to accomplish a goal. When you tell a story, certain parts of the listener’s brain is activated. This listener then turns the story into their idea and experience.

So what is the point?

Your storytelling isn’t about telling your audience to buy a product. There is content that does that, and it plays its role, but that isn’t storytelling. Your stories need to be focused on your audience. Remember the hero’s journey? Your audience is the hero, and you’re just what makes them so great.

If you’re interested in reading the 2 previous posts, you can check those out here and here.

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