Emotional storytelling and what brands forget to tell
by Tenielle Maris. Human storytelling has the innate ability to make a brand more engaging and more authentic, if done in the right way.
It’s not new news that emotional campaigns and content are the ones that seem to get the most shares, the most views and the most talkability. We are all only too familiar with those ads that have caught our attention for the simple reason that they are the ones that resonated with us. The question is whether these big emotive pieces are truly effective in changing behaviour and — in a time where emotion seems to be the card being played by every brand — is it something that will begin to lose its effect?
Factors in decision-making
A professor of neuroscience at the University of Southern California, Antonio Damasio, argues that emotion is one of the most (if not the most) important factors in decision-making. He explains that our emotions and the value that we ascribe to a person or object are the consequences of our past experiences. If emotion has the power to unearth past experiences that are unique to each individual, it is no surprise that an emotive brand piece is the one that we will remember: suddenly that brand becomes personal.
Dove Portugal’s latest campaign, Real Beauty Beats, is emotional storytelling at its best and one that strikes a chord within me for the simple reason that I can identify, emotionally, with what Dove has to say.
Consumer psychologist, Peter Noel Murray, explores the role of emotions in influencing what we buy: an understanding of consumer purchase behaviour must be based upon knowledge of human emotion and consider the paramount influence that emotions have upon decision-making. For a brand to emotionally connect with a person, that brand needs to resonate with that person upon a level that is powerful enough to propel them to take action. In an era where the consumers are looking for ‘more’ of everything, is emotion really enough to convince someone to make a purchase decision?
The question remains
There’s no doubt that emotion plays a part in creating meaning and purpose for a brand in a person’s life, but the question remains whether marketers and advertisers have become so obsessed with creating an emotional connection that they have begun to ignore telling the world what their product or service actually does. When storytelling has been made the hero of so many campaigns, brand cues and benefits have become the secondary focus, added to the end of an advert as an afterthought.
In a recent article by Brand Strategy Insider, striking the right balance between product vs purpose is explored: “Too much product risks losing a sense of context of the bigger picture thinking that drives epic storytelling…too much purpose and the product itself risks getting lost in self righteous rhetoric…”
Coca-Cola’s bold move to launch a global ‘One Brand’ strategy makes the product a key feature of the brand’s storytelling. Rodolfo Echeverria, Coca-Cola’s VP of global creative, sums its thinking up perfectly: “We are integrating the product story with the emotional story much more than before. Overly emotional ads that get awards at the festivals don’t matter because the brand isn’t even related to the story.”
Reasons to believe
For emotive storytelling to add true value to a brand, beyond the emotional connection, then it needs to beautifully and seamlessly integrate the most distinctive reasons to believe into the brand message, to ultimately compel someone to take action.
With Christmas around the corner we can expect big warm and fuzzy pieces from brands hungry to connect with consumers on a deeper level, via good old nostalgia and emotional storytelling. I’m eagerly waiting, not only to indulge in these award-winning pieces, but also to find out how many brands actually get it right.
Tenielle Maris is strategic director at TTL agency 34° in Johannesburg. Beginning her career in branding and communications, she has spent the last decade in the marketing industry where she has worked upon big brands spanning the African continent. Having found her passion in understanding what drives human beings to connect with particular brands, her time is spent getting up close and personal with the people whom brands are trying to connect with.
“Motive” is a by-invitation-only column on MarkLives.com. Contributors are picked by the editors but generally don’t form part of our regular columnist lineup, unless the topic is off-column.