Why storytelling works

Why storytelling works

Posted by Charlotte Moazami
social social

With Christmas comes the magical touch of stories being told all over the world. Parents tuck their children into bed telling stories of Santa Claus and his helpers. However, parents are not the only ones telling stories, marketers know that storytelling works just as well in business too – especially if you want to get the imagination flowing.

Psychologists have studied consumer behaviour and found that rather than advertorial content, an emotional connection and personal experience make a consumer more likely to favour the brand*. This very reason is why storytelling is perfect for marketing – if done right.

The most influential stories create positive emotions towards a brand, which in turn create customer loyalty. It is thought this happens because when we are being told a story our brain doesn’t distinguish between hearing a story and reality. The same regions are activated within the brain as if it was actually happening – making us able to almost experience and live the story.**

One of the best examples of this is the triumph of the John Lewis Christmas campaigns. Since 2009 with the collaboration of leading communications agency Adam&Eve/DDB the release of their annual advert has become pretty much a national event. With the brief being ‘thoughtful giving’, every year a beautiful story captures the nations heart and imagination accompanied with softly sung renditions of old songs by contemporary artists.

This year told the story of a penguin called Monty and his owner a young boy, Sam. The story follows Sam and Monty playing like children do, but Sam notices that Monty is lonely, so surprises him on Christmas morning with what he has been dreaming of – love. The message is clear, that John Lewis isn’t just a department store but can sell love too. John Lewis uses the formula of emotional storytelling to create a relationship with its audience and it pays off – with 19 million views to date on YouTube it has become their most popular advert so far.



*Murray, P.N ( 2013). Inside the consumer mind. Psychology Today.

**Mar, R. A. (2011). The neural bases of social cognition and story comprehension. Annual review of psychology62, 103-134.

Image Courtesy of Antarctica Bound.