Humans are empathetic creatures. We're predisposed to engage with stories that tap into emotions we recognize or have previously experienced in our lives. Since the conception of advertising, creatives, and copywriters have been harnessing the power of emotional storytelling to appeal to a wide range of target audiences.
Done well, it can work wonders for businesses, with significant benefits.
It can drive brand recognition. Emotional storytelling is a powerful tool to differentiate your business and become distinctive in a competitive marketplace. A well-positioned, unique, and memorable story in a marketing campaign can be the foundation for exciting results.
It can foster genuine customer connections. The best stories are the ones that build long-lasting connections. An emotional account that people can genuinely relate to creates powerful, empathetic bonds and, ultimately, loyal customers.
It can boost sales. Since stories tap into our emotions, they also leave an impression. Compelling emotional storytelling creates a deeper, trusted connection with a business and increases customers' likelihood of purchasing or recommending it to others.
In marketing, emotional storytelling is a strategy that affects how a target audience feels about a brand, product, or service being sold. The principle here is tapping into customers' emotions, values, and aspirations rather than just promoting a product's objective and technical features.
Typically, emotional storytelling focuses on a singular emotion, such as happiness, fear, anger, or sadness. Think of how McDonald's branding conveys feelings of happiness and love, Jack Daniel's for excitement, or Kodak for nostalgia.
Why quick thinking is smarter
In 'Thinking Fast and Slow,' a renowned psychologist, Daniel Kahneman posits that the brain forms thoughts in two different ways. System 1 is fast, automatic, emotional, and unconscious. System 2 is slow, calculating, logical and conscious. With increasing growth in competition and purchasing options, today's customers are overwhelmed with decisions—and studies have highlighted that attention spans are continually decreasing.
Put simply, we're not as rational as we'd like to believe. Most of our decision-making relies on System 1. Kahneman says: "Thinking is to humans as swimming is to cats; they can do it, but they'd prefer not to."
It's common for marketers to focus too much on 'slow thinking' with logical, feature, or benefit-led reasoning. Instead, we must create campaigns and content that appeal to our intuitive, emotionally driven, 'fast thinking' decision-making processes. Our inclination for 'fast thinking' is an opportunity to leverage emotional storytelling and establish your brand as the intuitive choice, not the logical choice.
Heineken creates emotional bonds with consumers
Heineken wanted to create deeper customer engagement and build greater trust among its male audience. The approach of its two agencies—Edelman and Publicis—was to demonstrate that finding common ground over a beer opens people up. Using a scientific study, 'Worlds Apart' secretly brings people together from extreme socio-political polarities and asks them to bond before discussing their beliefs.
The film is incredibly emotive and provoked a global conversation. The campaign forced its participants to move away from logical and ideological reasoning and instead empathise and connect with each other on an emotional level. As a result, Heineken saw a 7.3% increase in sales during the campaign, and 78% of consumers felt a closer affinity to the brand—all thanks to some well-thought-out emotional storytelling.
M&M's embraces emotional storytelling to drive long-term consumer value
By 1995, the popularity of M&M's was decreasing. BBDO's approach was to revitalize the brand by making each colour of M&M's into a character, or 'spokescandy.' The agency reintroduced Red as sarcastic, Yellow as happy, Blue as cool, and Green as seductive.
The campaign was a huge success. Adding an emotional dimension to each character made the characters easily identifiable, memorable, and—most importantly—relatable. By harnessing the power of emotional storytelling techniques, M&M's could tap into consumers' 'fast thinking' and generate significant long-term value and new opportunities with spin-off adverts, line extensions, and merchandise.
Why emotional storytelling matters in B2B marketing
While the benefits of emotional storytelling are clear, it's a common pitfall for B2B marketers to become distracted by complex, technical sales messaging. This is especially true working for enterprise-level accounts covering concepts such as multi-cloud computing, hyper-converged infrastructure, and as-a-service solutions. Sounds quite cold, challenging, and unemotional, right?
Of course, the target audience is entirely different from the average customer that B2C marketers engage with. In our B2B world, we engage with C-level executives, key stakeholders, and IT technicians. But regardless of context and target audience, we are all still humans. In this sense, B2B marketing is evolving to remain competitive with some of the captivating storytelling we often see in B2C contexts.
Dell Technologies communicates with emotion
Over 40 years ago, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston made history by becoming the first man to sail solo and non-stop around the globe. Sir Robin went on to create the 'Clipper Round the World Yacht Race' in 1995, and it has been held every two years since.
Dell Technologies provides crews with Dell Rugged Tablets for GPS navigation, plotters, weather updates, and keeping in touch with loved ones in remote locations. Luxid created a short customer story video to promote the product. Combining a voice-over script (read by Sir Robin himself) with footage of the Clipper race helped create a short, powerful, and emotive story.
The stock footage of harsh sea conditions appeals to our emotional modes of thinking—we're considering the perennial dangers of sailing rather than the technical features of Dell Rugged Tablets.
PerkinElmer gets the balance right with emotional storytelling
PerkinElmer is a global corporation that produces analytical instruments, genetic testing, and diagnostic tools to solve scientific and medical challenges. The company needed an inspiring concept to promote its new Newborn Screening across event visuals and social and display ads.
Regarding emotional storytelling, the key here is finding the right balance. Especially since these babies are screened for life-altering genetic disorders—it's crucial not to convey anything too bleak or morbid.
Luxid went for a 'less is more' approach, with simple imagery of happy mothers holding healthy newborn babies. The headline: 'Health is a gift. Happy birthday!' ties it all together. It's upbeat, uplifting, and to the point.
And that's just the tip of the iceberg. At Luxid, we're continually delivering creative brilliance to various clients across the globe. So why not reach out? We'd love to have a chat. Contact us here.