How Brand Stories Build Trust and Capture Hearts and Minds by NOT Selling

brand stories

Once upon a time brand stories were either grandiose fabrication or family lore passed down from generation to generation.

Today, storytelling is business.

Stories have infiltrated brands of all sizes, locations and industries. But the stories being told by brands are in metamorphose…

Grandiose fabrications have transformed into real-world, purpose-led stories that matter. Emerging business narratives talk about improving lives and creating legacies of significance.

The caterpillar, it seems, has become a butterfly.

As content production has exploded to a deafening cacophony, purpose-led, humanitarian stories, is one of the few ways to cut through the clutter. All other content is information and often, just noise.

Discarded. Disregarded. Or worse – used as a catalyst to disconnect from a brand.

Here are 3 examples of brand stories being used effectively. 


Fiction or Non-Fiction?

The burning question, then, is do purposeful, humanitarian stories mean good business? In other words, can these stories powerfully engage to change our hearts and minds and ultimately, our behavior?

We need to know. If so, then purpose-driven brands can use these extraordinary stories to magnify helpful, connected actions around the world.

The answer, according to psychologists Melanie Green and Tim Brock of UNC is a definitive yes.

Work published by Green and Brock reveals that storytelling does in fact sway our beliefs and it does so much more effectively than fact-based logic. Furthermore, as a story increasingly grips our attention, the more we transport ourselves to become a participant in that story and feel a connection with the storyteller and participants in the story.

As a result, the brands story changes us and moves us to act.

Not only does the emotion of a purposeful story engage and involve us deeply, it creates trust. Trust is the very foundation of any relationship. Relationships, both business and personal, cannot exist in the absence of trust; or at least not with any meaning, depth or sustainability. Trust generates possibilities and creates the soil in which relationships can flourish.

An example: Arrow Electronics highlights how technology can improve lives — dramatically. A short video of one of their transformational stories about Sam the race car driver and the gift that technology gave him is riveting: Video


Leave the Facts Behind

Here’s a striking reality: the opposite of trust-induced stories are logical, fact-based arguments which, according to Green and Brock, foster an immediate and clear case of initial distrust. When we see facts and figures, our radar is on alert. Based solely on being presented with logic and numbers, we believe we are likely being manipulated with shady information.

In a world where business still relies heavily on the use of logic, fact, slides and statistics, this should be a powerful wake-up call for brands.

This makes me think: while content like infographics are helpful, are they truly engaging? With the emergence of video as a prominent content channel, we, as brands have the opportunity to craft and tell connective stories using visual, audio and other effects to convey our message – more powerfully and significantly.

See how you feel after viewing my no-expiration-date favorite story from John Butterill and Google: Video


Truth or Bust

Emotion for persuasion is, in my opinion, also a root of distrust. However, emotion for the purpose of persuasion is not the mantra of mission-led brand stories. As my friend used to say, “the truth will always find you out” and that is a stark reality for individuals and brands alike in today’s transparent, fishbowl world. Real emotions tied to a purpose of making a life better, works because it reaches hearts and minds.

It also lets others see the “real you”. It’s transparent. Genuine. Admirable.

An example: Abbott’s video about Living Life to the Fullest as the purpose of their business: Video

People are not inspired to act solely by logic and reason. It takes emotion to do that.

So tell a story for your brand; one that is purpose-led, real and crafted to help improve a life, create a better world. At the very worst, you will have done a great deed. At the best, the upside of your humanitarian, purposeful “once upon a time” is boundless.

When it comes to brand stories…It all starts with one domino…


Sandra Zoratti

Sandra Zoratti is an award-winning business leader/CMO, author, accomplished speaker and was honored with the Business Marketing Association’s 2012 Marketer of the year. She built and launched the data-driven marketing practice, "Precision Marketing" from the ground up and published her book on the topic in June 2012. Sandra has a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering and a Masters in Business Administration.

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