Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Emotive Storytelling - The Brand's Superpower

Think back to your childhood.

What was that one advert that you loved and can still remember today, decades later? What made that commercial memorable? Was it funny, witty or silly? Did it tug at your heartstrings?

We as humans love stories. It's how we make sense of our world and how we empathise with people we've never met by simply reading their stories. A good example is what happened in Africa in the 1980s. Pictures and stories of suffering Africans in the wake of terrible famines prompted action. Remember the devastating famine in Ethiopia? It galvanised the collaboration of some of the world's most famous musicians and entertainers, including the late King of Pop, Michael Jackson.  These celebrities gathered as a group to record the song 'We Are The World'.


With the single, the group  USA For Africa raised $60 million which was distributed to Ethiopia, Sudan and other countries. Such a feat would have impossible to achieve without storytelling, which shed light on the pitiful plight of victims of famines at that time.

Storytelling is how our parents taught us good morals as kids.

It's also how we connect with  brands and why we sometimes choose Coke, instead of Pepsi (or vice versa), or become lifetime customers of a business.

Companies use storytelling to coax desirable actions from consumers. Emotive storytelling used by brands goes further: it 'ropes' us in and makes us care about all aspects of the brands. It also influences our purchasing habits.                                            

And we may not have much of a choice. As noted in this article, science explains what listening to a story does to our brains. Simply put, a good story, (and a simple story is more effective than a complicated one), makes our brains more active. Researchers noted that a story is also the only way to activate parts in the brain so that a listener turns the story into his idea and experience. This of course is a compelling way to influence people to accept our suggestions...kind of like directly imparting our ideas into peoples' minds...like having a superpower.

Think about that for a moment.

How brands can use emotive storytelling to boost revenue

The best stories resonate the most with us and incite emotions that we simply must act upon. We tend to make emotional decisions about our purchasing habits every day. Therefore, emotive storytelling---creating and using stories to arouse strong feelings in order to connect with audiences---will be an effective marketing tool to consistently generate revenue, if done the right way.

In this post, simple tips are given on how brands could use stories about their products to influence consumers to buy, and even to pay more for them. 

But for such stories to be effective, they must touch a nerve. The examples below illustrate just how stories 'hook' us to brands. These stories don't just sell us products; they sell us experiences and generate endearing messages. It’s no wonder that we're likely to cherish those experiences and remember those messages long after the products have been consumed or the thrills associated with the purchases have dissipated.

1) Brotherly Love - Coca Cola South Africa

Those of us who have older siblings can recognise the mischievous antics and 'bullying' of the older sibling in the commercial. But we knew even then that they protected us and had our backs when necessary. And Coca Cola wants us to  remember that they triggered that special moment that would be cherished by the younger brother in the video...every time he drank a bottle of Coke.

2) Wonderful World - Values.com (The Foundation for a Better Life)



This advert is posted on the Values.com website, which is owned by The Foundation for a Better Life, a nonprofit organsiation that seeks to inspire people and spread goodwill.

It communicates a strong message: that we live in a wonderful world and should co-exist in harmony with one another and with nature. Notable in the video is the song 'What A Wonderful World' by beloved late singer Louis Armstrong, known for his velvety rich tone and personable character. The iconic song itself stirs nostalgia and makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside. It is a perfect complement to the Foundation's promotion of values and the human spirit. With this commercial, the nonprofit organisation wants us to appreciate our relationships and be grateful for our blessings.

A powerful message, an endearing video (which we'll be tempted to watch several times), and a lasting impact...all achieved in less than two minutes of visual storytelling.



We all have our favourite brands and reasons why we 'stick' to them, even when competitors continually vie for our patronage. When the differentiation between products or services based on quality, price and business ethics is negligible, emotive storytelling is often the reason that consumers stay loyal. 

This is how it works: 

Emotive storytelling connects people to brands by provoking emotions that cause them to connect with them on a relational level, thereby prompting them to act in a consistent manner. 

Whether the goal is to buy a product, or to pay (more) for a service or to donate for a worthy cause that the brand champions, emotive stories make things happen. So this (not-too-secret) secret to a brand's superpower is often used with other tools to secure customer loyalty and ensure brand dominance. 

And it's why companies today must dedicate time, talent, and resources to creating compelling stories to promote their products and services. These stories will help brands forge long-term bonds with their customers who will always support their businesses. 

So what's your favourite advert? Why will you always remember it? Let us know by posting your comments below. 

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N.B- Images courtesy of Stuart Miles; via freedigitalphotos.net. Videos courtesy of YouTube.


  1. Mercedes Benz Advert will have to be mine. The scene is set when a man is running to the doorstep of a house in his Black Tux, gets there and rings the bell panting. The Wife/Girlfriend equally dressed in a long black dinner gown opens the door and folds her hands looking at him (Obviously upset at him either being late or forgotten said date). The man looks up to her still panting out of breath (obviously faking it) and says " Sorry I'm late would have been here earlier but the car broke down". Lady gazes at him intently then steps out looks at the car and sees its a black new E-class Mercedes Benz. She steps back in looks at the man intently then turns round and gives him a resounding slap saying "Mercedes Benz doesn't break down for the first 300k miles"!

    This ad Class! What they are trying to say is the Brand represents Reliability and Quality, which it is known for, she's like try another excuse! I mean that left an impression!

  2. I haven't seen the Mercedes advert but what you described is indeed a class act. It definitely leaves an impression while highlighting the superior performance of the vehicle.

    Thanks for commenting.


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