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Choose your emotions wisely in storytelling

Updated: Aug 18, 2020

BOOK EXCERPT from 'Beliefonomics: Realise the True Value of Your Brand Story'

Up to 90 percent of purchasing decisions are made subconsciously through our emotions, according to research by the Nielsen Company and about 20 PhD and MD neuroscientists who discovered a correlation between the brain's processing ability and real-world consumer behaviour.

The conclusion for those of us passionate about storytelling in business? Choose your emotion wisely, apply through story and expect to affect change. Following the map outlined in my Beliefonomics Storytelling Framework, your goal is to foster Belief Moments that engage hearts and minds – and wallets. Belief Moments move us on the journey from unbelief to belief in a product, service or idea.

Get it right and your stories are not just emotional reflections of an ideal, they’re speaking a truth that captures the essence of your brand. The story becomes who you are, your identity.

Likewise, your customers' Belief Moments are stories that can act as a reflection of society, shared morals, and who we are at different stages of life’s journey.

Nike’s famous Just Do It advertisement narrated by Colin Kaepernick is powerful, and memorable, because it emotionally hooked us into the brand’s vision - everyone can achieve greatness on their own scale. [see my musings on Nike's 2020 update to this campaign here].

“Don’t believe you have to be like anybody, to be somebody,” Kaepernick says. “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.” The soundtrack and images irresistibly bring these ideas to life.

So, what was the impact? Not everyone was happy. Some called for a Nike boycott over claims Kaepernick disrespected the American flag, but that’s a side story in my view. The overwhelming view was Nike kicked a field goal, experiencing a US$6 billion lift in value following the campaign (source: Abad-Santos, A., 2018, ‘Nike has made $6 billion since its Colin Kaepernick ad, Vox).

It’s at this point I should jump in and call out what you’re probably thinking – I don’t have Nike’s budget and a top-notch creative team.

Sure, but the principle still applies and the creativity inspires. It is possible to create your own Belief Moment, regardless of budget.

For example, the 2011 film Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead remains one of the best low-budget film-maker and brand collaborations I’ve seen. Joe Cross, an Australian entrepreneur with health and weight problems picked a Breville juicer and travelled across the US, meeting people and existing on a diet of blended fruit and vegetables. Joe lost weight, restored his health, started a movement, and ultimately kicked off a new lifestyle business.

Although not originally involved in the documentary, Breville realised it was a good opportunity and partnered with Joe. According to media reports, the Australian brand more than doubled juicer sales after the movie launched on Netflix.

In fact, you can count me a convert. After watching the doco, I was inspired to crack out a blender for the juice diet. Remarkably, I lost 10 kilos and to this day juicing is part of my diet.

It’s an instructive example. One of the first steps in the storytelling journey is to put your brand aside for a moment and think about your customers in a different way – beyond traditional demographics into the world of psychographics and belief systems.

Ask questions like,

  • What do customers believe about their world?

  • How well do you ‘get it’?

  • Using the Breville example, how many future customers believe they could change their lives on a smoothie and juice diet?

I call this stage of brand storytelling strategy The Belief Journey, and it’s the focus of [Chapter Nine in my book] and many energetic workshop engagements.

BOOK EXCERPT from 'Beliefonomics: Realise the True Value of Your Brand Story' by Mark Jones (2020), Chapter 8. Buy a copy here in print or ebook version.

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