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June 5, 2024

A Shared Story

Jen Bates

A good story is your best friend. It has the power to immediately build a bridge between you and your listener by establishing connection points and highlighting shared experiences. An authentic story builds trust in a way that a simple slogan can’t achieve on its own. And the best part of a good story is we all have them; they are universally available and undeniably powerful.

“Stories are remembered up to 22 times more than facts alone.”

Jennifer Aaker, coauthor of The Dragonfly Effect

I don’t know about you but I have a terrible memory. In an overstimulating world, my brain is constantly analyzing what information needs to be stored vs shelved in the deep recesses of my mind. I liken it to a computer hard drive that is running out of storage space. Another fun trick my brain has learned is to prioritize the feelings I have about a certain topic over the facts. When I’m at the grocery store and mindlessly scanning the eggs on the shelf, my mind doesn’t search for facts I’ve learned about the health benefits of small farm raised chickens- it searches for feelings. “Happy Eggs” —> happy chickens, that feels good. “Happy hens on 8 acres”—> mind drifts to a visual of a bunch of hens living their best life. I read the farm’s story on the packaging- “Raised by small family farmers.” I begin to imagine me on a farm with pet chickens.  I probably even have a cute farmer’s hat and chic overalls on. Suddenly my mundane grocery shopping trip has become endearing. Am I going to pay more? Yes! Why? Because I feel good. I’m invested in their story. In our shared (albeit it fabricated) story where I have a quiet plot of land and chickens and fresh eggs every morning.

“People forget facts, but they never forget a great story.”

— Andy Smith, coauthor of The Dragonfly Effect

When you tell a story, there’s an evoked humanity that is more powerful and everlasting than a well crafted convincing argument. You can guide your listener to an idea in a way that allows them to fill in the gaps with of the roadmap you have laid out for them. It’s interactive, personalized for each listener based on their connection points with your story. This kind of interaction builds trust and forges a shared past between you and your consumer. 

There are more brands now than ever before and competition is high. On top of that, our culture is heavy with divisiveness- us vs. them. We hear it day in and day out and most of us are weary with the banter. We long for connection, a shared experience, a mutual affinity for a value we hold dear to our heart- and stories are what will get us there.

While researching the values reflected in today’s technology, author Jennifer Baker identified that the latest technology is “geared around creating small explosions of short-run happiness. The result is clickbait rather than substance; life hacks rather than holistic solutions; echo-chambers than generate radicalism rather than understanding…And we are more susceptible than ever to short-term design serving up a stream of addictive content. Like junk food, technology serves up a sugar rush but fails to nourish us.”

Consumers are seeking nourishment, meaning, and a feeling that their actions are aiding a greater good. When we can articulate those shared goals between our clients and their consumers, we help craft loyalty between brands and their audience. A loyalty that is built on the foundation of trust and shared values and that’s a foundation that is hard to shake. So let’s get out there and share the stories of what makes our clients special, relatable, and partners in their consumer’s story.