Our brains are hard-wired for a story. Long before Netflix, Hulu, or even good old fashioned books we told each other stories. From caveman carvings to Shakespearean plays, we’ve told tales to inform, impart lessons, and entertain.
There’s a reason we’re compelled tell stories: they stick in the mind. In fact, multiple studies show that it’s easier for our brains to remember stories rather than facts.
Our brains become more active when we tell or hear narrative events. A dull Keynote presentation activates parts of our brains that process language and decode meaning. But when we hear a story, our whole brain can light up.
Stories capture attention
Lifeless words and worn out phrases—found in abundance on corporate websites—have the same effect as a boring Keynote: they spark only dim glows in the reader’s brain.
Build your website around a lively brand story and you’ll set their brain ablaze with activity. Here at MarketSmiths, we know the power of vivid, emotion-driven words for inspiring action. We’ve seen them engage readers time and again, and there are studies to back this up.
A 2006 study by Spanish researchers found that sensory words stimulate the most activity in the brain. The researchers hooked study participants up to scanners to monitor brain activity. They then had participants read the Spanish words for “perfume” and “coffee”. When they did, the part of the brain that reacts to smell lit up; when participants read the Spanish words for “chair” and “key,” that same region remained dark.
A riveting story on your website grabs attention, draws readers in, and keeps them reading right up to the call-to-action at the end. Make this CTA as strong as your story, and you’ll soon be telling a tale of your incredible conversion rate.
Storytelling fosters connection between brand and consumer
Communicating through stories can give your brand a powerful voice that your customers can related to. Master storytellers like Google, Facebook, and Apple connect with their users through authentic stories—these stories make vast corporations appear more human.
Modern consumers are savvy and they hate to be sold to. Using storytelling, you can put your brand and products in front of your potential customers in a way that won’t disengage them. In fact, according to OneSpot research, a well-told story can even make consumers happy to consume ads—92% of consumers want brands to make ads feel like a story.
Stories breathe life into dry data
A classic study into the power of stories, researchers asked students to make a one-minute persuasive pitch to other members in their class. Most students used an average of 2.5 statistics in their pitch, and only one in ten told a story. When the students were asked to recall ideas from the pitches, only 5% recalled a statistic, but 63% remembered the stories.
Stories are memorable in a way data isn’t.
Communicating your brand’s impact and wins is critical. But statistics won’t move consumers or stay with them. Instead, broadcast your success through stories. People are more likely to listen, and to remember.
The ROI of your Brand Story
Storytelling drives conversions and ROI—and we’ve the stats and story to prove it.
According to research by Headstream, if people love a brand story, 55% are more likely to buy the product in future, 44% will share the story, and 15% will buy the product immediately.
And the story…
The University of Pennsylvania wanted to find the best way to raise money for Save the Children. They created two versions of a marketing leaflet. One featured statistics about the problems children face in Africa; the second featured the same statistics, but also told the story of Rokia, a 7-year old girl from Mali struggling against severe poverty.
The university gave participants in the study $5 to read the leaflets. After this, the researchers asked if the participants wanted to donate to Save the Children. Participants who had read the story gave almost twice as much money as those who’d only read the statistics—$2.38 vs. $1.43.
So what have we learnt about stories?
- Studies show if we share a story people are more likely to remember the message, be persuaded by it, and feel personally connected to it.
- Data and stories should be used together to move people both intellectually and emotionally.
- Stories are powerful because they are meaningful.