There are countless benefits when it comes to creating brand awareness that good storytelling can bring. Storytelling can influence who we trust, play on our nostalgia, help us make sense of complex information, and communicate the tone and values of a brand in a few minutes. These days, brands are getting emotional in their video marketing because emotions compel action, with emotional ads being almost twice as effective as those with only rational content.
But how do you convey a moving story and how do you share it in a way that is engaging, emotional, persuasive, and captivating? We recommend starting off with a clear vision of the feeling you want your audience to walk away with, an engaging plot, and a strong call-to-action. Whatever the topic may be, your brand needs to present a powerful theme your audience can rally behind. Your brand’s emotional marketing strategy doesn’t have to be polished or perfect, but it does need to be authentic and honest in order to succeed. The more “real” your video is, the more views you get.
So, why is emotional storytelling through video so powerful? The human brain is hardwired for visual data and content. In fact, the visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text, and it takes twice as long to process and recognize words. And as awkward and terrible as we may be at it, humans crave connection. Brand storytelling, especially through video, elicits an emotional response from the viewer thanks to the phenomenon of emotional contagion, or having one person’s emotions and feelings directly trigger similar emotions and behaviors in other people. Brand storytelling weaves together the facts and emotions that your brand evokes, shares the story behind your brand, and gives your customers another reason as to why they should stick with you.
Keep reading to learn of our five approaches to emotional storytelling that’ll turn your audience into lifelong ambassadors of your brand:
Highlight Internal Stories
Five years ago, a then five-year-old Hudson visited the Albuquerque Sunport International Airport’s (ABQ) ramp viewing area with this family to wave at airplanes as they passed by. Southwest Airlines Captain Mike Hickey noticed Hudson, pulled closer to the fence, opened the side window, and waved back. His mother caught the moment on camera and shared it on Southwest’s blog.
Southwest Airline caught wind (see what I did there?) of the story and invited Hudson and his family to ABQ for a cockpit tour and one-on-one time with Captain Mike Hickey. The encounter was shared across Southwest Airlines’ social media channels, garnered over 48,000 views on YouTube, and resulted in positive media coverage across the nation.
Southwest Airlines has always found simple and affordable ways to share stories of employees who have gone above and beyond, from sharing corporate videos to recognizing employees in their monthly magazine, which is read by more than 6 million travelers every issue. Highlighting positive behaviors not only increases customer loyalty and trust, but it also encourages employees to go the extra mile.
Always, the American brand of feminine hygiene products, debuted a 60-second spot during the 2015 Super Bowl, highlighting the brand’s “Like a Girl” campaign. The video showed how people perceive the phrase, “like a girl,” and challenged harmful stereotypes affiliated with it. At the time, the ad might have been the first time a feminine care product was advertised during the Super Bowl and was a notable example of how feminine care brands were exploring relatable stories and concepts to sell a product.
The campaign succeeded in meeting its four key objectives: driving relevance with an emotional connection to Always, driving popularity through top-of-mind awareness, increasing penetration, and creating cultural change.
It resulted in:
- Over 90 million views; number two viral video globally.
- More than 1,100 earned-media placements and 4.4 billion media impressions in the first three months.
- Twitter followers tripled in the first three months.
YouTube Channel subscribers grew 4339%.
- 177,000 #LikeAGirl tweets in the first three months, including many celebrities.
- Higher-than-average lift in brand preference; claimed purchase intent grew more than 50% among target demographic.
- In a study conducted in December 2014, almost 70% of women and 60% of men claimed that, “the video changed my perception of the phrase ‘like a girl.”
Use Powerful Visuals & Sound
The assets you use in your social media campaigns tell your brand story in a way that words cannot. And I can’t help but bring up this example once again because it was so well done. In 2019, P&G unveiled a poignant short film titled “The Look,” which portrayed a day in the life of a Black man. Throughout the film, we see how he experiences micro-aggressions and prejudiced looks, and it ends with a scene in a courtroom, where the viewer is led to believe that he is in trouble, when in reality, he is the judge. In a little under two minutes, the video highlights how racial bias and stereotyping affects the way we look at the world. Nothing is spoken throughout the video, but the message was easily captured by viewers.
When featuring limited dialogue, it is important to think about how the sound you use helps move your story forward. High-quality ambient noises and music that swells and recedes with the rising and falling of the main character’s emotions, such as the ones used on “The Look,” help the viewer focus on the visuals and engage with the message that was being conveyed.
Celebrate Milestones & Notable Moments
Celebrating milestones that are relevant to the live’s of your audience can help strengthen the relationship between your brand and consumers. A new parent may find a Huggies jean diapers commercial amusing, but their Canadian campaign, “Power of Hugs,” reminding mothers that hugs are one of the best gifts a mother can give her newborn, will really resonate with the stage of life new parents are in.
ESPN’s campaign, “There’s No Place Like Sports” launched last September during the channel’s coverage of the U.S. Open, capturing the many sides of sports, from 15-year-old Coco Gauff’s stunning win over Venus Williams, the U.S. Women’s National Team’s World Cup victory, to images of Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier being carried away from the field with a spinal injury, to footage of him walking onto a stage with his fiancee five months later. Heartbreaking scenes include members of the L.A. Angels draping team jerseys across a pitcher’s mound in honor of teammate Tyler Skaggs who passed away, and empowering ones, like Aly Raisman, surrounded by one hundred women at the ESPY Awards who were abused by former USA Gymnastics national team doctor Larry Nassar.
“You don’t have to watch sports all the time to realize that it is a very different kind of place, one full of narratives and characters that highlight the best of our human potential,” Charles Hodges, founder and executive creative director at Arts & Letters Creative Co., which developed the campaign, said in an interview.
Don’t Be Afraid To Focus On Emotion
It is healthy to have a good cry once in a while, and Kleenex helped us accomplish just that with the “Tiny Miracles” video from their “Messages of Care” campaign. In the video, Kleenex recognizes Renee Hendrix, who worked at the WellStar Kennestone Hospital in Marietta, Georgia, as a NICU nurse and has helped save babies’ lives for years.
Kleenex had her sit down to watch a video compilation of thank-you messages from the patients and parents she helped throughout her career. Once the video was over, she looked up to find those families standing in the lobby, and the reunion was a total tearjerker, as you can imagine. The video spot focused on the connection between these families and Hendrix, rather than on the product itself, and briefly featured Hendrix wiping her eyes with a tissue. However, the emotional story tied itself to the product and its uses.
Earlier this year, Google’s “Loretta” spot tugged at our heartstrings for its powerful and emotional narrative. The commercial begins with a man typing into Google “how to not forget,” and then asking his Google device to show him photos of his late wife named Loretta. The man continues to ask Google to remember certain things about her, and at the end, Google recites all of the things back. It ends with the man saying, “remember I’m the luckiest man in the world.” The ad was based on and voiced by a Google employee’s 85-year-old grandfather. Did you ever think you’d be crying over a Google Assistant commercial? Me neither.
WestJet, a Canadian airline, has mastered the art of emotional marketing, and I’m not the least bit embarrassed to say that I re-watch their past Christmas campaign videos at least once a year to thaw out my cold, dead heart. There are so many examples to choose from, but one of my favorite videos is their 2013 “Christmas Miracle.” The experiential marketing stunt made a Christmas miracle happen for more than 250 travelers on two Calgary-bound flights. The video was a success on social media and solidified that WestJet’s brand was built on people, connections and positive values.
A good story differentiates memorable content from forgettable content. Whether you’re looking to debut a commercial during the next Super Bowl or you’re wanting to share an engaging and relatable brand story on your social media channels, your primary goal should be focusing on quality storytelling. Emotional storytelling is essential for brand awareness, engagement and conversion, and builds a connection with your audience that a simple ad wouldn’t be able to do.