Once Upon A Brand

April 10, 2013 by Ben Noble

A Brand Story

Do you know the story about the Three Little Pigs?
Could you recite the story if I asked?
Could you tell me the moral?

If I had to guess, I’d say you answered yes to all three questions.

Let’s try another quiz.

What was the last infomercial you saw?
What were some of the features and benefits of that product?

If I had to guess again, you probably weren’t sure what the last infomercial you saw was, which means you probably just shrugged at question number two.

So why is it that you could instantly retell a story that was created 200 years ago but can’t remember anything about an infomercial you saw last night?

It all comes down to storytelling.

In a world where complex messages have to be broken down into a constantly updating stream of 140 characters and a picture is literally worth 1000 words on Facebook and Pinterest, marketers cannot just blindly list features and benefits of their brand or product and expect to gain any traction or attract much attention.

With the growth of content and Radial Marketing™, we’ve all heard about the importance of storytelling for our brands and products. But many hear this new wisdom and fabricate excuses as to why its not feasible. But these non-believers and skeptics are missing out on vital opportunities to capitalize on their markets. And I don’t just say this as a creative and fiction writer with an affinity for narrative – it’s science.

In a recent Lifehacker Article, Leo Widrich underscored the importance of storytelling in all aspects of our lives, including (and especially in) business.

If we listen to a PowerPoint presentation with boring bullet points, a certain part in the brain gets activated. Scientists call this Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area. Overall, it hits our language processing parts in the brain, where we decode words into meaning. And that’s it, nothing else happens.

When we are being told a story, things change dramatically. Not only are the language processing parts in our brain activated, but any other area in our brain that we would use when experiencing the events of the story are too.

Put simply, when we hear (or read) a story, our brain goes into overdrive. Typically we analyze data when we’re looking at bullet points or a list of features and benefits, but when that data comes in story form, the emotional portion of our brain engages with the message. We immediately try to make connections to previous experiences, feelings, and desires, giving the messaging incredible sticking power.

As a quick example, which cologne are you going to buy? The one that makes you smell like you just toweled off after a full day of riding the ten-foot waves on a California, sun-soaked beach or the one that just makes you smell like the beach?


If we want to capitalize on the content marketing mania that’s currently strangleholding modern branding and advertising then the key is stories. Not just because us writers enjoy waxing poetic and spinning narrative yearns, but because scientifically, humans are wired for them.

But you have to be careful about spreading your gospel at the wrong place at the wrong time. You don’t want to tell the story of your ice cream store to North Dakotans on a diet in December. It’d be more effective aimed at carefree spring breakers in the Bahamas. Fusing the power of storytelling with the strengths of Radial Marketing™, an effective method for reaching the right people at the right time, can give your ideas incredible sticking power.

So facilitate my imagination. Show me why your brand or product is best. Don’t just tell me.

Do you use stories in your marketing efforts and has it been successful? Let us know in the comments!


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