Our Brains Crave Narrative—How Brands Can Use Storytelling
Once upon a time, in a research lab far, far away, scientists discovered something — humans love stories. From nursery rhymes to the hero’s journey, we’re natural-born narrative junkies. Our love for storytelling is a tale as old as time. A tale of evolutionary history. A tale of brain science.
Let me tell it to you.
Long before the internet, the printing press, and even before paper and pencil, people told stories. They used them to help inform the next generation on a wide variety of topics — where to get water, how to hunt, which plants were poisonous, etc. Storytelling provided a way to make sense of the world, to understand complex ideas, and to teach important life lessons. Because these stories were so valuable for survival, human brains evolved to crave narrative structures and patterns.
Even now, our neural networks light up like a Christmas tree when we hear a good tale. That’s because stories activate multiple regions of our brains, including those responsible for sensory processing, emotions, and memories.
This is how stories develop feelings of empathy and connection between the storyteller and the audience. We do more than hear or read stories, we experience them. We put ourselves in the shoes of the protagonist, feeling their emotions and seeing their perspectives. We relate to the characters as if they were our friends. We find ourselves suffering through their struggles and rejoicing in their triumphs, emotionally engaged at every twist and turn.
As a brand, you hope to capture the hearts and minds of your audience. A story that speaks to their deepest desires and aspirations is a powerful solution to do so. Instead of touting product features and technical specs, try communicating that you understand and appreciate your audience. Magic happens when they feel that you get them, that you’re on their side, and that you’re looking out for their needs.
Narratives like this are compelling. They create impactful, lasting emotions and connections. To craft them, you need to tell your audience their story — the version of “happily ever after” they’re dreaming of. When you communicate with your audience this way, you create relationships that go beyond the transactional. At Struck, this is how we help brands build loyalty, inspire advocacy, and maybe even elicit some knee-slapping laughter or a sentimental tear.
Science has shown us that our brains are already wired to respond to stories. The brands that understand and embrace this power are the brands that tap into our primal human need for narrative. They are the brands that may even find themselves and their customers living happily ever after.