There's nothing like a good story. Whether we read them, watch them, or just listen in, stories intrigue us. We hear, "Once upon a time," and we're hooked. What is it about stories that memorize us so?
Would you believe that there is actually a scientific answer to this puzzle? Oxytocin. Yes, a chemical reaction is partly responsible for our love of stories.
Harvard Business Review (HBR) conducted a study to help solve the riddle of what takes place to our physical bodies when we encounter a good story. HBR found that when we hear a story we connect to, oxytocin is released in our brain, which signals a "safe alarm." With this release, typical barriers and walls we create to keep us safe and suspicious begin to come down as trust and empathy begin to increase. The outcome results in an emotional connection and heightens engagement levels that not only grabs our attention but helps to keep it.
What does this mean for your brand? Well, stories encourage your audience to draw near as they find your brand to be a safe space. They trust your word, your ask, your insight, your service, your product, and most anything you have to offer. Fewer questions are proposed as suspicion levels are low. This particular state of mind creates room for building loyalty and producing fans.
Your brand needs a story, and as our world transforms before us, a brand story will be required like never before. Change will happen. New approaches will emerge. Rethinking and repacking is inevitable. At the core, however, will be your brand story. How your organization changes, remodels, and revise will all need to be built upon the story your brand contains.
To ensure your story packs a punch and accomplishes its purpose, it must include tension. Stories with tension are more likely to attract attentive viewers/listeners who come to share the emotions of the characters within. When they arrive at the end of the story, they continue to mimic the feelings and behaviors of those characters. In other words, the story is engraved in the audience's psyche, and it becomes unforgettable.
Now, for there to be tension, three elements are required. Your brand story will need to include a hero, an antagonist, and the "who" that is needing rescue.
Your brand, your organization, is the hero in this story. The narrative should show that you are in the business of saving the day. Every element should spotlight how your organization is here to create change, solve a problem, and meet a gaping need. The details paint a picture of the level of heroism your brand brings into the world of your audience. Without your organization, we are in trouble.
Trouble from what? The antagonist, of course. Your organization's product or service fights against the villain of the story. That problem you are solving, the changing that you're creating, and the need you're meeting is indeed the enemy. The account of the antagonist must reveal just how bad this bad guy is. Be sure to leave no stone unturned when exposing this "low life."
See, the "who" your brand is defending can not be left in the dark. They must be made aware of the threat. It is the only way to reach a clear understanding of how vital the hero is. The audience your organization serves require the wherewithal so they may cheerlead you best. The goal of your brand story is to have them rooting for you!
We can attest that with every passing day, the foes of our land are increasing. The needs are growing at unprecedented speeds. New antagonists are popping up and spreading like forest fires. Please don't keep your story a secret. Build it. Share it. Be the hero we all need.