Storytelling is old, so why is this primitive form of communication so effective? Because it goes beyond products, statistics and facts to persuade the audience, stimulate the imagination, tap into emotions and evoke a response.
Budweiser nailed storytelling in 2015 with its Lost Dog Super Bowl Commercial, and they outline the power of storytelling in about 60 seconds in the video below.
Budweiser didn’t use a single word, product or beer bottle throughout, yet you felt the power of story through the stirring of your emotions. As you watch, you elate to the feelings of friendship, loyalty, fear, joy and security. These are the messages that Budweiser wants you to feel when you are enjoying one of their products. They want you to connect with their brand on a higher level than just a drink.
Persuade your audience
Budweiser chooses their messaging carefully. Next time you are in the beer aisle staring at the wall of options, they want you to remember them for being a loyal friend, and having your back. These are the emotions that the commercial persuaded you to associate with their brand.
Imagine instead that the commercial was inundated with information and products. The message would have been inauthentic and diluted with marketing noise. Data can persuade, but it can’t inspire action like a story can. Authentic stories have the ability to change attitudes and behaviors. In working with our non-profit clients, we have found the best way to persuade the audience is to focus the story of a single person versus many. When we do this the audience responds with higher donations. The audience is able to empathize on a higher level with that one person.
Stories have the power to connect people with purpose. We relate to characters and situations. Stories help us communicate with each other without barriers of age and differences. Unlike any other method, stories have tremendous power to persuade by connecting people through the sharing of feelings, passions, joys, sadness and adversity.
Get inside their head
Our minds become emotionally charged through storytelling, and it evokes a neurological response. By engaging the right brain, stories ignite feelings, imagination, intuition, rhythm, and holistic thinking. This is where we begin to process and relate to others through story. The right brain helps us to find the meaning in life. Beyond that, the brain processes things we imagine the same way as a real experience, leaving us feeling as though we have lived it.
Stories help us process how things work, how we make decisions, how we see ourselves, and how we explain and teach values.
Engaging the right brain causes a release of hormones
Neuroeconomist Paul Zak has done extensive research on the types of hormones released during stories. During intense moments, the stress hormoneortisol helps us focus. The “feel good” chemical, xytocin, is released when you see something cuddly and cute. Oxytocin gives you that feeling of connection and empathy. Happy endings release dopamine, leaving us with the feeling of hope.
The Budweiser commercial is a great example of carefully choosing characters to deliver a message that engages the brain and in turn, releases hormones. The dog provides a tense moment of feeling lost and alone,focusing your attention and keeping you on the edge of your seat. Choosing iconic Clydesdales to run along with the adorable puppy guarantees an oxytocin release, and the reuniting of friends creates the perfect ending to this 30-second storytelling journey.
Want to connect with your audience in a deeper way?
Take your audience on an authentic journey into your story. This powerful way to deliver your message will stir up emotions and tap into the listener’s neurological response. Storytelling is the answer to going beyond the facts and figures and having a deeper connection with your audience.