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Weaving brand storytelling into your marketing is one of the most effective ways to build a connection with your target market. It's also what people prefer. Your customers aren't interested in product-pushing. They want engagement.

Nearly 80% of people want to hear brand stories. As many as 55% would consider buying from a business in the future simply because they really loved the brand narrative.

Recognizing the power of stories is great. But what makes for a great story? How can marketers consistently build narratives that resonate with customers on an emotional level?

By putting empathy at the heart of your brand storytelling.

Whether you're creating content about your employees or telling stories about your clients' experiences, empathy is the emotive element that will make your narratives stick in the minds of your audience.

Let's look at what brand storytelling involves, why using empathy to drive your narratives is so important, and how to do it.

What Is Brand Storytelling?

Brand storytelling is the use of narrative in marketing to engage with your audience on a deep level. It's a way to convey...

  • The feel of your brand—the values, what it stands for, why it exists. Essentially, you're expressing what the people behind the brand hope to achieve for customers, employees, and for society.
  • How your brand makes customers feel. Storytelling shows why they chose your product and how it has made a positive difference in their lives. Or how it has solved a problem.

To use brand storytelling, think about ways to incorporate the following four story elements into your marketing.

Characters

You can create client stories with your customer as the hero. Doing so is a compelling method for using storytelling in B2B marketing. Jill Kouri, CMO of Jones, Lang, and LaSalle (JLL) has used this technique to generate customer interest in her brand.

Setting

Use context when telling brand stories. When people understand the where, why, and how—as well as what your brand, your customers, or your employees have working for or against them based on the setting—the story comes to life.

Conflict

Brand storytelling isn't simply about sharing how your product benefits customers. It's about sharing how you overcame obstacles for the customer. It's also about being transparent about challenges within your business.

Using empathy and putting your audience in the shoes of your story's characters will involve them emotionally. They may personally relate to these conflicts. This will help them imagine what it would be like to have the same experiences you're trying to convey through your storytelling.

Climax and conclusion

Storytelling is about connecting. But, it's also about inspiring and motivating. Show your audience how the conflict was resolved. Bring them into the story so they can feel the sense of fulfillment and resolution that your client or employee experienced.


Empathy helps you connect on a deeply human level with prospects and customers alike. An upcoming MarketingProfs event on Empathy in Marketing features two presentations: "The ROI of Empathy: How Marketers Use Customer Empathy as a Business Differentiator" and "Empathy and the Future of Marketing: B2B Success Stories." Register today (it's free).


Why Empathy Should Drive All Storytelling

So, why should empathy have a leading role in your brand storytelling?

Whether you're creating a video, a blog post, or something as seemingly small as a social media post, you need empathy to be able to invite your audience in.

It's empathy that makes people care about the story. When you really think about it, empathy is the vehicle that takes us on the journey. Whether it's a riveting novel or a well-crafted About Us page on your website, when you get people to feel something, what happens can be profound.

On the other hand, if people can't feel the gratitude expressed in a client testimonial, the triumph of a success story—the joy, hope, perseverance, or anguish—they aren't going to care.

The Benefits of Using Empathy in Storytelling

When you master empathy, brand storytelling becomes one of marketing's most powerful tools.

It keeps your audience interested. Storytelling can even be used to help your employees feel more connected to their work.

Storytelling offers important benefits that you won't see from product-focused content and other content that neglects the human element.

With storytelling, you can express your brand's personality, make your brand memorable, and hook your audience.

Express your brand's personality

Empathy is the ability to experience emotions. So make the feel and personality of your brand crystal clear; that way, your audience can more easily sense the emotions you want to express.

Identify the characteristics of your brand: Is it helpful, serious, passionate, creative, innovative, spunky, nurturing? And then let those personality traits shine through in every nuance of your marketing—from your website's visual feel to the tone and presence of your written content.

Make your brand memorable

Studies show that emotion enhances memory. When your brand storytelling is able to make people feel something about your brand, your content will resonate with them on an emotional and a psychological level.

You can do this either by making your brand the protagonist or by putting it in the role of the supporting character with your client as the protagonist. Your audience will remember the story, and that will help your brand stand out from your competitors.

Hook your audience

Empathy in storytelling is so powerful because it activates the brain. When the brain experiences an emotionally charged event, it releases dopamine. Unlike facts, which activate only two areas of the brain, a story can activate several, including the sensory cortex, the motor cortex, and the frontal cortex.

Once we get a taste of a good story, our minds hunger for more. Make that insight a part of your marketing, and you aren't going to need to jump through hoops to get people's attention. They'll come to you.

Find out more about using empathy to take your brand storytelling to the next level.

Join me on July 30th, right here on MarketingProfs, for a doubleheader virtual event on Empathy in Marketing. As one of two webinar presenters, I'll be sharing B2B success stories that we can all learn from. You'll walk away with a powerful framework for B2B marketing that you can use to enhance your marketing and engage your audience. In a separate presentation, you will also learn about the ROI of empathy and its role as a business differentiator.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner is a sought-after speaker and the CEO of Marketing Insider Group, where he's worked with 75+ brands on thought leadership, marketing, and employee-activation programs. A best-selling author, his latest book is Mean People Suck: How Empathy Leads to Bigger Profits and Better Lives.

LinkedIn: Michael Brenner

Twitter: @brennermichael