In 2006, Dove’s marketing director, Stacie Bright, found herself in a moral dilemma. Dove’s beauty products featured superficially “beautiful” models to sell their products. This was an age-old tactic meant to establish brand loyalty. But when she learned that their marketing was affecting her daughter’s self-esteem, she knew something needed to change. “If it’s affecting my daughter’s self-esteem,” she thought, “it must affect everybody’s daughter subjected to the advertising.”
Bright used this realization to put together an advertising campaign. The campaign used pictures of the company director’s own daughters, with text next to each image that stated why each girl believed they weren’t beautiful. “Wishes she were blonde,” one message read next to a picture of the executive’s young, dark-haired daughter. Each picture was a personal story.
Bright and her team knew it was a risky move. But Dove executives were deeply affected by the pitch and gave her their resounding approval. Dove subsequently overhauled its marketing strategy.
Storytelling Is A Window, Not A Tactic
This story is effective because it’s not about increased sales or business strategy — it’s about people. While marketers may tell stories to sell their products or services, the overarching purpose is to create understanding and relate to your audience. It’s a window into the inner workings of what drives your company.
Stories aren’t a dry data dump. They’re a way to present information so that everyone takes genuine interest. In this case, Bright built a story out of her own personal experience, connecting a meaningful message directly to the Dove brand.
By encapsulating a struggle Dove’s demographic could universally relate to, she created a connection with the audience, setting the stage for brand loyalty to grow.
Establishing Brand Loyalty
People do business with people they know, trust, and like. So how do you get customers to know you — and, better yet, actually like you?
Business communications expert Patricia Fripp shared her thoughts on how storytelling can help: “Stories have the power to create interest and drama from even the driest data. When you tell a good story, you can teach, inspire, inform, or be persuasive. Business, after all, isn’t just about numbers and data.”
Instead of a bedtime story to help your audience fall asleep, give them an engaging story to bring them closer to your company. After all, the best way to build brand loyalty in your customers is to make them legitimately care about your business.
Creating A Relationship
Stories are an incredible relationship-building piece. They convey your personality and allow your audience to see you as more human.
Bright told a meaningful story about her daughter and about true beauty. By opening up her family to the world, she created a greater understanding of this mutual struggle, which resonated with millions. She didn’t do this with the purpose of solely establishing brand loyalty. Instead, she set out to create a connection.
The important fact that beauty is not related to body image created a foundational bonding point for many consumers to relate to the company. When you strike a relationship, brand loyalty naturally follows.
How Storytelling Affects The Brain
Perhaps the greatest value in storytelling is how it engages your audience’s brain. Stories demand an emotional investment, which piques and holds the interest of the brain.
When the brain experiences an emotional reaction to what it reads, it releases dopamine. Dopamine exponentially increases the consumers ability to remember the experience. This process, called neural coupling, engages much more of the brain than traditional marketing techniques. It creates an unparalleled experience for the consumer.
Storytelling Can Increase Revenue
“Facts tell, stories sell,” says marketing guru Bryan Eisenberg. Bright’s story is unique and impactful in its own right. But we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that Dove’s profits doubled from $1 billion to $2 billion since they adopted the campaign. This is because you engage a much wider audience by telling a story, rather than just presenting facts.
Stories put their audience at ease and engage them with the human side of the brand. This creates brand loyalty, which can alter behavior, change lives, and drive consumers to spend. The right narrative can increase the value of your business’s products by over 20 times.
Money talks, and that money says storytelling is powerful. So is paying attention to your audience’s emotions and reactions to your advertising.
Your Brand Is The Best Story To Tell
No matter what industry your company is in, there are stories to be told and people to engage.
Start with something simple, and then gradually build to a meaningful story that will impact your audience, create a lasting impression, and make your brand as relatable as it is recognizable. You’ll find an increase in brand loyalty and relationship building that goes deeper than the surface.
We harness this power with our clients each month, encouraging them to share personal stories and experiences in their monthly newsletter, rather than pushing products or services. We do that because it works! Tell your stories and let the relationships that follow do the heavy lifting for building your business.
To learn more about storytelling and the content that drives it, check out our book, The Ultimate Guide to Newsletters.