The 4 Simple Psychology Hooks Of All Great Brand Stories

brandsnack - the 4 simple psychology hooks of all great brands

The 4 Simple Psychology Hooks Of All Great Brand Stories

January 2, 2018

It felt like a punch to the stomach! I felt completely hollow inside…

It was 2000. A warm summer’s morning and I was sitting on the bus going to university.

I was almost at Waterloo station to catch my train. It left in about 15 minutes. Plenty of time.

I love the warmth, and the sun filtering in through the window was relaxing every muscle in my body.

I always read on my way in. It took me away from the monotony of the journey.

I was totally engrossed in A Storm Of Swords. The third book in George R. R Martin’s A Song Of Ice And Fire series.

I was happily reading. I couldn’t put the books down since I had picked up A Game Of Thrones a few months earlier.

But then it happened…

The Red Wedding.

I won’t spoil anything for anyone (although you’ve probably seen it in the TV series), but it knocked me for six!

I sat there dazed and confused. I put the book down on my lap and vacantly stared out of the window.

It felt like my soul had just been ripped out. I couldn’t think straight.

I went straight past my bus stop without noticing and ended up missing my train.

How did a few words manage to do that to me? Something that wasn’t even real?

The psychological power of storytelling! I was hooked.

And I’m gonna show you exactly how it works. How something completely made up can make you feel worse than your very cute, real-life hamster dying a few years earlier.  

Confusing plot lines

We’re all told that in business we should be telling stories.

That it’s necessary to build a loyal tribe of raving fans.

But no-one tells us what to do. Why it works. And most importantly, how to do it.

This means that people end up not doing it. Not focusing on it. Dismissing it as something that’s unnecessary for their business or they just don’t have the skill to get right.

We are our stories

We end up thinking of stories as something vague, intangible and not having a direct impact on our conversions and sales.

But they do.

Stories are how we think, how we understand everything around us, how we persuade people, how we make decisions, how we pass on our beliefs and values and how we convey our identities.

Sales are made on empathy, trust and loyalty.

And your story is the foundation of them all.

It’s much easier to persuade people with stories than with cold, hard data as they’re easier to understand and relate to.

Our brains are hardwired to sort and file information in the context of stories. Every object, experience and relationship will be organised in sequence together with our senses and emotions at the time.

So here are 5 expert tricks to use when writing your brand story to make it much more impactful.

1. Completely immerse them

Our brains and bodies physically react to great storytelling.

If you use detailed, powerful imagery to describe everything, you’re reader will be transported.

Think about great travel writing – you know it’s good when you feel like you’re standing there on that tropical beach. You can feel the warmth of the sun on your skin and smell the salt in the sea air.

Or great food writing, where you can taste every mouthful of that fresh, rich Thai green curry. The smell dancing under your nose.

Be descriptive. Use those adjectives! Think about all 5 senses – sight, sound, smell, touch, taste. How can you really elaborate on these?

It’s not just the sensory cortex that can be stimulated, but also the motor cortex.

If you’re reading an expert climber’s story of how they fought tooth and nail to reach the top of Mount Everest, your body will feel the weariness, the struggle.

The brain makes us experience stories as though they are real. As though they are actually happening to us.

As long as you put your story in a real context and setting, a time and place your audience can relate to. Then you can take them with you on your journey.

2. Give them pleasure AND pain

There are two hormones that play a hugely important role in storytelling.

Oxytocin and cortisol.

Oxytocin is more widely known as the ‘love’ drug. It makes us feel good. It makes us bond, connect and empathise with others. New mother’s get huge surges of it just after giving birth to build that initial bond with their baby.

Cortisol is the stress hormone. When we get scared, frustrated, angry etc., this hormone puts us on high alert and makes us pay attention.

You need both in equal measure to create a good story.

You need your audience to empathise and care with what you’re saying. But you also need to keep them gripped. To keep their curiosity peaked.

If you use vivid imagery and a relatable journey, then your audience will automatically empathise. But in order to get that cortisol going, you need to create conflict.

You need drama, obstacles, frustrations, despair etc. You need something in the way of reaching the ultimate goal of the story.

3. Create suspense

We will always want to know what happens next!

And with suspense, that want turns into a need – an addiction.

As we go through stories, as we empathise with the characters and journey within it, we build up emotions within us that need to be released.

We need a resolution.

That’s why every great story is based on a clear structure. A beginning. A middle. And an end.

The best stories introduce suspense early to capture interest. They start strong. Usually in their title, headline and first 100 words or so.

Need clear story structure of beginning, middle and end. Suspense must appear early enough to capture interest.

Then use pacing throughout each stage to build the atmosphere. To drive the action forward.

But remember, if you spend too long building the suspense, your audience will get bored and move on. Move at too fast a pace however and people won’t have time to be immersed in what you’re telling them. They’ll feel overwhelmed and detach themselves from the story.

Always build to a great climax, but leave a little bit back. Always keep them wanting more.

4. Make them the hero

When you’re fully immersed in a story. When your oxytocin and cortisol are firing off at all the right points. When the suspense just keeps driving you to get to the end, you become the main character.

You become the hero.

And this is a great method for persuasion.

An effect known as neural coupling emerges, where our emotions, thoughts, ideas and opinions start to mirror those of the main character in the story.

It’s a method for empathy, but you can use it to steer people to a desired thought, action or behaviour.

Whatever you want your audience to ultimately do, your main character should go through that exact transformation. Their goals, journey and needs must match those of your audience.

The only caveat is that the transformation needs to be believable. It needs to be attainable.

It needs to be something that inspires them to take action.

Time to captivate and influence!

Storytelling is the art of persuasion not only on an emotional level, but a biological level.

By telling a great story, you can actually change the way your audience thinks, feels and behaves when it comes to your brand, products and services.

If you can alter their perceptions, then you’ve built a very powerful connection indeed.

If your audience see themselves in the brand story you’re telling, they’ll be much more likely to believe in your vision, trust your authority and buy into your experience.

Share your story

I’d love to know about your brand stories. What are they and how do you tell them? What do you use to hook them from the get go?

Let me know in the comments section below.

How Powerful Storytelling Drives Profitable Brands

brandsnack - how powerful storytelling drives profitable brands

How Powerful Storytelling Drives Profitable Brands

December 20, 2017

Want more customers? More loyal customers? Of course you do…

Tell a story. Tell your story. Tell their stories.

Simple as that.

Storytelling is the great driving force behind all the most successful brands.

It’s a way to truly connect with your audience on an emotional level. A level that hooks them in and doesn’t let go.

I’m gonna tell you exactly how building a story around and throughout your brand will help you, your audience and your entire business.

But I’m not George R. R. Martin!

And you know what…you don’t need to be!

No-one is expecting the next Game Of Thrones from you (although you’d be onto a winner if you did!).

The concept of storytelling can be daunting. Where do you start? Novels are massive right!?

And this is where most people think about it the wrong way.

You don’t need a sprawling epic. You need to tell people about you. You need to tell people why they should care.

As a professional blogger and business owner – that should be second nature!

Once upon a time...

Mention the word ‘story’ and more likely than not, people will get children’s fables flash into their heads. They’re the first stories we’re introduced to and the ones we most readily remember.

We therefore paint storytelling with a childish brush. Something that couldn’t possibly be of relevance in the business world (unless you’re in the business of writing children’s books!).

But stories have been a staple in human interaction and consciousness throughout time.

We use them to explain. To urge change. To pass on thoughts and ideas.

Stories are built around empathy so people will engage with them and relate to them. They put everything into familiar relationships and create a resounding sense of movement.

They’re the foundation blocks of communication.

And communication is exactly what businesses are based on.

So let’s look a little closer into the top 6 benefits impactful brand storytelling can offer your business.

1. Attraction: Show your audience empathy and they’ll listen

Everything starts with your audience. Your target market.

Get to know them inside-out. Their wants, needs, goals, desires, problems, pains, lifestyles, interests, hobbies, social circles etc.

If your story immediately shows them that you understand where they currently are and where they’d like to be, then you’ll hook them instantly.

Your story needs to be a mirror to your audience. They need to be able to see themselves in it. Like you’re talking directly to them and no-one else.

Lead with them. Not yourself.

Describe their pains and desires in detail and tell them how you can help them on the journey between the two.

2. Understanding: If you’re clear on why you exist, then others will be too

We’re very inquisitive creatures by nature. If we’re attracted to something or someone, we’ll want to suss it out. To understand everything about it.

You brand story should therefore tell your audience everything they need to know about you.

How you started. Why you started. What you actually do. What your journey has been like. Where you are now. Where you’re going.

And in order to tell your audience that, you need to actually know it yourself!

And you’d be surprised at how many businesses aren’t able to answer all of those very simple questions.

What’s great about your story is it forces you to focus on why you exist. To really think about it. Your drivers, passions and vision.

The clearer and more concise you are in all of the above, the easier it’ll be for you audience to know what you’re about and decide if they’re with you or not.

3. Connection: We build relationships with others of shared values

At the heart of our businesses are the relationships we build.

And relationships are formed on shared values.

Do you know what your brand stands for? What matters most to it over anything else?

Are you all for exclusive luxury, charitable giving, environmental protection, education etc.?

You need to be sure that what your brand values, your target market values just as much. They must align.

We find recognition and affinity in those that mirror ourselves. And we want to form stronger bonds, stronger relationships with them.

Relationships are built on communication. Your story tells them about you. And they in turn will tell you more about them.

Who they are. What they like. What they want. A hugely valuable source of research and direction for your business.  

4. Trust: We like what we know, we trust what we like

When we form a relationship with someone, we’re constantly seeking more of a good thing. We know we like it and we want more of it.

We then develop trust.

And trust is a powerful thing!

Trust leads people to listen. To believe. To care.

It’s the ultimate goal of any business. To have a dedicated following of trusted, loyal customers will be your lifeblood.

Your brand story will build trust in your audience if they see themselves in it. If they believe in it. If it speaks to their passions, their desires and their values.

When people believe in your brand and care about it, they’ll move onto the next stage…

5. Purchase: People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it

Your brand story needs to have a purpose.

And ultimately, that purpose is sales.

Everything you do in your business should be geared to making sales, and your brand story is no exception.

Don’t be put off by the term ‘sales’ or ‘selling’. They don’t mean you need to be a sleazy car salesman with underhanded tactics to trick people into purchase.

Quite the opposite.

Sales are a result of trust and belief.

If your story resonates strongly with your audience, they’ll buy from you.

Think about most of the products and services in existence. The ones that you buy. They’re not one-of-a-kind. They’re commoditised. The same thing being sold by countless other businesses that you could’ve bought them from.

But you didn’t.

You went with the one you did for a reason.

And that reason was because the brand appealed to you. Because you shared an affinity for who was selling it, rather than what exactly it was they were selling.

For example. Sneakers are sneakers right. But Nike and Adidas are very different. You fall into one camp or the other. Be all you can be. Strive to be the best. Or youth culture. Style and edginess.

Both products will keep your feet warm and dry. You can walk/jog/run in both.

But you bought one of them because you shared their values. Trusted their quality. And believed in their vision.

6. Shared Experience: Brand stories aren’t there to be told, they’re there to be lived

Finally, your brand story shouldn’t be yours alone.

It’s the culmination of every one of your customer stories and audience interactions with your brand.

It’s a shared entity.

Your story should be powerful enough to become an experience for people. Something they want to talk to others about.

Your story will drive your word-of-mouth.

Very rarely do people talk about generic products. They talk about those that are backed by something more.

A clear vision to make the world better somehow.

A movement people can relate to and join.

You brand story will be told and retold. To explain who you are. To urge the change you stand for. And to spread YOUR thoughts and YOUR ideas.

A story worth telling

If you want to really connect with your audience to build empathy, trust and loyalty, then you need to perfect your story.

There are no wrong stories. Every story will resonate with someone out there.

There are over 7.3 billion people on the Earth.

Trust me. Your story will hit with someone!

Just make sure you know it. Know it well. And know who you’re speaking to.

Your brand, your sales, your business will flourish as a result.

What’s your brand story?

Do you already have one? Do you need to get started on one? How have the above points changed your thinking on the importance of brand storytelling?

Let me know in the comments section below. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

5 Expert Tips To Become A Brand Storytelling Genius

brandsnack - 5 expert tips to become a brand storytelling genius

5 Expert Tips To Become A Brand Storytelling Genius

December 13, 2017

People get a little overwhelmed when they hear the word ‘storytelling’.

Sounds a bit grand. A bit creative. A bit beyond the limits of our literary abilities.

I’m used to writing mildly amusing Facebook posts about nonsense. Or half-muddled Whatsapp messages full of spelling errors.

The art of storytelling seems a million miles away from the simple text pleasures of everyday life to try and get a semi-unforced chuckle out of our friends.

It’s really not though.

I’m gonna take you through 5 incredibly useful tips for creating your brand story that’ll make the process a lot easier and much less daunting.

Blank document syndrome...

Most people don’t write because they don’t know what to write.

We all have our own stories to tell. They’re inside each and every one of us.

They’re unique.

And we tell them every day! To our friends. To our family. To that poor barista you see every morning at Starbucks that feigns pleasant smiles at your ramblings (they’re rather convincing aren’t they!).

Your brand story’s no different. It just needs to follow a few simple rules.

100,000 words…??

Stories don’t need to be multi-part epics.

They don’t need to include a colourful cast of characters sprawled across interlinking chapters that take months to write.

You’re not writing a novel.

You’re telling people about you. Who your brand is, what it stands for and how it’ll make the lives of your audience better.

If you follow these 5 tips when creating and telling your brand story, you’ll be onto a winner.

Nothing complex, I promise.

And to be honest – all complete common sense (although isn’t that the funny thing with common sense. It only seems to all make sense once someone’s told you – surely that’s the complete opposite of the meaning!)


Onto the tips…

1. Be honest, authentic and sincere. Be a decent human being.

We all have an uncanny ability to smell BS from a mile off.

If something seems too good to be true. It usually is.

If you’re trying hard to be something you’re not. It’ll show.

It’s the same with your brand. It needs to be true to who you are. To its personality and values.

At the end of the day, it’s just like making friends. Be yourself, be kind, be respectful and you’ll find others that appreciate who you are. No-one wants to be friends with an asshole.

Be relatable to your audience. Be available to your audience. It all goes a long way towards building emotional connections with them.

The cornerstones of lifelong rapport, trust and loyalty.

A lot of businesses (and people) feel the need to jazz things up a little. Embellish the truth. Try and force rose-tinted glasses onto other’s faces. It’s the whole Instagram-perfect thing.

But it’s not real!

And sooner or later, people will see through it and lose faith.

Being perfect isn’t relatable. Don’t polish things up. Keep it raw. Keep it real.

Now that doesn’t mean don’t make an effort. You still want your brand to be perceived as high quality and valuable.

But it does mean being transparent about everything. Even your failures.

In fact, talking about your failures and how you overcame them is one of the best ways to show you’re human. That you’re not above anyone else.

It’ll also position you as a trustworthy source of authority in your niche as others can learn from your mistakes and see your success as attainable.

2. Make your world passionate and addictive

Passion is infectious.

So show it! Don’t simply tell it.

Show your audience why you do what you do. What drives you. Why you can’t wait to get out of bed each morning and help people.

Show them your vision for a better future and a better life for them.

Be visual. Describe in detail using words. Use imagery to transport people. Highlight those you’ve helped and introduce them to your audience through testimonials and case studies etc.

Create a world that hooks them with a promise and keeps them with a lifestyle.

Make them not want to leave. Make them want more.

Turn your brand into a habit!

Think about some of the world’s most addictive brands – the magical childhood memories of Disney that all families love, the borderline obsessive Apple fans than wouldn’t dream of owning a phone without an ‘i’ infront of it, the Coca Cola drinkers that only drink ‘the real thing’.

It’s all because they’re passionate about their offering. About weaving their way into the lives of their customers.

The more addicts you create, the more of a movement you make.

The bigger the movement, the bigger the addiction.

3. Stay relevant and entertaining

Know. Your. Audience.

Know what they want and expect from you. What they like. What they don’t.

You need to constantly be adding value to their lives. Whether that’s knowledge, motivation, inspiration etc. Find your way and give it to them.

Your story needs to speak to your audience’s desires and pains.

It also needs keep in line with current trends. If your industry has shifted dramatically. If your niche no longer cares about the angle of your story, then you need to shift your message.

Otherwise it won’t land well with your audience.

On top of being relevant, your story also needs to entertain.

That doesn’t mean in the jester, ball-juggling kind of way. More the mental stimulation of curiosity, surprise, amusement, joy, inspiration or enchantment.

Again, it comes back to who your audience are and what they expect from you.

If people don’t ‘enjoy’ your brand in some way, they won’t care about it and they won’t come back.

One of the best ways to entertain is with humour. If you can make people laugh, they’ll love you.

Not easy to do, but you don’t need to be a comedian. You just need to know what tickles your audience’s funny bone. A little research is all it takes.

4. Always be consistent

There are two parts to this.

The first is be consistent with your brand. That is, be consistent with your brand personality, your brand values and your brand promises to your audience.

If you say you do something. Do it. Prove it. And keep doing it, and proving it.

If you stand for something, then always adhere to it.

Want to help the disadvantaged? Then constantly help them. Want to save the planet? Then do everything you can do make an environmental difference.

The moment you contradict any one of those within your story, you’ll instantly lose credibility. People will lose trust in you. And they’ll move on.

Consistency breeds trust. And trust breeds loyalty.

You also need to stay consistent across everything you do. Where you write your story. Where you tell you story. Where you show your story.

Through all the content you create and interactions you have – blog, videos, podcasts, newsletters, emails, courses, phone calls, events, in-person meetings etc.

Your story must be the same each and every time. Don’t add to it. Don’t detract from it.


5. Tell a single story. Keep it short and simple.

Not only does it make it easier for you to tell, it makes it so much easier for your audience to understand and remember.

And if they know it and can recall it easily, they’ll be likely to tell others more readily.

Get your key points across.

Keep it tight and don’t confuse or bore people.

Don’t veer off into unnecessary details.

Everything you have in your story must hit an emotional hook point with your audience. They must be able to recognise themselves in it.

It must be simple to follow and relate to.

And tell it as often as you can!

Grab hold of any opportunity to share both the highs and lows of your story.

Obviously keep it relevant to the situation however – always look to add value to a situation. Don’t be that weird guy at a party that only talks about themselves, even though you didn’t actually ask – thank you very much.

Start telling your story

When crafting and telling your brand story, if you keep these 5 tips in mind, you’ll have something ready to grab the hearts and minds of your audience.

It’s as simple as making sure you’re brand is always being true to itself, it’s always being a decent and honest entity, adding value wherever it goes and is passionate about what it offers and who it helps.

Keep it simple. Keep it relevant and if you can, try and crack a smile.

You’re not as far off of a genius storyteller as you thought!

How do you craft your stories?

Which of the above tips really resonated with you? What are your thoughts on crafting compelling brand stories? Do you have any great tips to add to those above?

Let me know in the comments section below. I’d love to hear your thoughts!