Stories are what can make companies stand out more than others, stories are what contribute to the sense of community around your product or service, and stories are just plain fun to listen to!
However, storytelling has become so popular that sometimes it seems like everyone wants to tell you some sort of story or another. The risk then ends up being that storytelling becomes more about self-justification than good storytelling.
This results in marketing strategies consisting of vague statements promising some kind of happiness if you buy their logo-emblazoned products. See Nike’s “Just Do It” for a typical example of this type of storytelling in marketing strategy.
Luckily, storytelling has been around for a long time and we can learn quite a lot about storytelling from history before we ruin storytelling as an effective marketing tool with self-justification and overuse of vague statements!
What is Storytelling?
Storytelling is best understood when we understand storytelling as something greater than just telling stories. In other words: The actual stories are less important than how people think and feel when they’re listening to the story.
Here’s what you need to remember: People will believe any story if the emotions they get from the story are strong enough. This means marketers have a great responsibility to use storytelling correctly because storytelling is so effective it can convince people of things even if they’re not true.
1. Psychodrama [psychological storytelling]
Psychodrama is a type of storytelling where the protagonist in the story represents someone who has a problem. This storytelling method relies on the listeners (the audience) knowing that people tend to act like their protagonist, meaning that if you can relate you will start thinking like your protagonist. This storytelling method is therefore very effective when it comes to influencing behavior because it gets people to change parts of themselves- many marketers use this storytelling method unconsciously every day.
The storytelling method here was not used by marketers trying to do good, but by marketers trying to achieve something else entirely- and this is why psychodrama storytelling should be used carefully when marketing.
2) Afterlife [spiritual storytelling]
The afterlife storytelling method is a storytelling method where the protagonist dies or disappears at the end of the story. These stories are usually about someone who has had some kind of impact on your life after their death, which can make it easier for people to relate. This makes afterlife storytelling perfect for creating empathy because you’re promising an emotional relationship with whoever is telling this type of storytelling from now until the end of time.
But storytelling marketers should be careful not to misuse storytelling methods like this because you can’t make people believe in something they don’t. However, afterlife storytelling is perfect for creating nostalgia, which helps with storytelling persuasion!
3) Metareligion [philosophical storytelling]
Metareligion storytelling is storytelling that starts out with the protagonist having a problem and ends in them finding something (like themselves, for example) they didn’t know before.
People like to see themselves in stories like this because it makes them feel important and interesting- storytelling marketers should therefore use storytelling methods like this one when trying to make their audience think or feel good about anything.
This storytelling method is very effective at creating empathy, which is why you often see metareligion storytelling being used by brands trying to get people to donate money or volunteer time.
A perfect example of metareligion storytelling being used correctly can be seen in this Heineken commercial where guys go out and watch the sunset together. This storytelling method is about finding something you like with someone else (in this case, the sun) and makes people feel good- which is why it’s perfect for storytelling marketing.
This storytelling method doesn’t make anyone think or feel anything important but it’s still extremely effective at creating empathy and getting people to buy products from your brand, which is why marketers should use storytelling like this when they want their audience to be comfortable and think positively.
4) Psychoanalytical storytelling
Psychoanalytical storytelling is storytelling where the character has some kind of mental health problem that interferes with their ability to function in society.
This storytelling method makes people think about themselves and what they would do in someone else’s situation because they can’t relate very well- which makes this storytelling method perfect for storytelling persuasion!
An example of psychoanalytical storytelling being used correctly by marketers is in this Dove commercial, which talks about how beauty standards are damaging to women’s self-esteem when they don’t live up to them.
This storytelling method focuses on portraying characters who have something wrong with them but in the end, their problems are fixed- which is why makes people feel good about anything they’re trying to sell using storytelling persuasion!
5) Existential storytelling
Existential storytelling is storytelling that involves the protagonist searching for themselves. People like this storytelling method because it makes them think about their own lives and search for meaning, which is why marketers should use storytelling methods like this one when they want their audience to be more introspective.
Existential storytelling can also make people feel comfortable by giving them something to relate to which is why storytelling marketers must use storytelling like this when they want people to understand an idea or concept without feeling overwhelmed.
An example of existential storytelling being used correctly in marketing can be seen in how Lookbook uses comedy (which has its origins in existentialism) to get teenage girls to feel comfortable and portray themselves in a positive light. This storytelling method makes people think about what it means to be a teenage girl and how you can find meaning in that, which is why storytelling marketers should use storytelling like this when they want their audience to understand an idea without feeling overwhelmed.
6) Archetypal storytelling
Archetypal storytelling is storytelling where the protagonist has some kind of flaw that they’re trying to make up for. People like this storytelling method because it helps them relate to characters in stories and see how they might overcome problems, which is why narrative marketers must use storytelling like this whenever they want their audience to fully comprehend something.
The best examples of archetypal storytelling are in children’s storytelling because it makes them see that even though you have problems, you can work to fix them- which is why storytelling marketers must use storytelling like this when they want their audience to understand an idea.
An example of archetypal storytelling being used correctly by marketers is in how Durex uses storytelling to show the desire for intimacy using characters who are flawed but come together at the end. This storytelling method helps people realize that there are flaws with everyone but those flaws don’t have to separate us, which is why storytelling marketing must always be done like this!
Need help telling your story in marketing?
The best marketing starts with storytelling. Connect with Woods Creative today to drive results for your marketing efforts. Contact for a free meeting today.