Storytelling is something that we’re passionate about. From how we help our clients tell their stories, to admiring the storytelling of investigative journalists and our personal favourite stories – whether they’re our go-to holiday reads, childhood memories of being read to, or the books we enjoy reading with our own children. Stories are at the heart of what we do and what we love.
But why does effective storytelling matter for brands? Vested UK CEO Elspeth Rothwell and I discussed this during a recent webinar with Kurtosys. Below is a brief summary of the conversation:
Storytelling is rooted deep in history and we experience it through all facets of life. For example, children’s stories help us understand the context of our environment, simplifying complex concepts and helping us understand them. They are how we learn and communicate, adding excitement, interest, and intrigue to life. And if told well, they can do the same for brands by adding emotion, building personality adding a sense of humanity, simplifying what a brand is about and giving businesses a voice.
Just like myths and legends, fables and fairy stories, brand stories can be complicated. And more often than not, the complexity only increases for financial services brands. Telling brand stories can support complex messaging by adding colour, presenting ideas in a different tone and using examples of other environments and contexts which then translate back into the financial services world. Stories can also be adapted to appeal to different audience groups by creating characters with needs and emotions that we identify with.
Brand communications often struggle because their stories lack emotion. And financial services lean more in this direction due to regulation, compliance and the large amount of data and factual information that has to be presented.
But storytelling is an opportunity to overcome this by appealing to the emotional side of our audience’s brains. The ways in which the rational and emotional sides of our brain interact and work together were the subject of our recent breakfast event with psychologist Simon Moore. Often interactions and communications fail because we assume we are engaging with a rational brain and not one that is led by emotions.
Less than 1 percent of the decisions we make on a daily basis use the rational side of our brain so we must be making emotional as well as rational connections, particularly in a fact-based world. And with stories activating the emotional side of our brain, their power cannot be underestimated.
But where do authentic stories come from? Within a business, they can come from so many places and people. Employee and customer data, focus groups, in-house experts and social listening are just a few examples. But how do we translate these facts into stories which inspire?
We build stories by grouping our insights into three key areas – what’s happening in the real world, what’s happening in the world of your customers and prospects, and what’s happening within your business. We then identify where the opportunities are between them.
From this, we define the ‘why’ of any communications strategy – enabling brands to confidently articulate and engage with audiences about their vision and the future of the business and its goals.
The investment in developing authentic stories means that brands, their marketers and communications teams have an arsenal of ideas, content, topics, and themes at their fingertips, to activate through integrated campaigns that reach their target audiences.
Elspeth Rothwell, CEO Vested EMEA and Katie Spreadbury, Director Vested EMEA, recently spoke about successful storytelling in investment management communications during a webinar hosted with Kurtosys. If you want to hear more, please watch or listen to the full webinar here.