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And They Lived Happily Ever After – The Value of Storytelling in Consumer-Brand Interaction

November 28, 2016 • STRATEGY & MANAGEMENT, Global Business, Marketing & Consumers

By Klaus-Peter Wiedmann, Evmorfia Karampournioti and Nadine Hennigs

Storytelling has become an essential element of the business environment to deliver information, manage conflicts, support team building processes, and create emotional bonds with a company’s stakeholders. This article will explain how you can effectively adapt the storytelling approach from a consumer brand perception.

 

“The best brands are built on great stories.” – Ian Rowden, Chief Marketing Officer, Virgin Group

 

Introduction

Throughout the ages, all aspects of life in societies and cultures have been influenced by stories that form human values and dreams. As the oldest and most effective form of passing knowledge between generations, the art of storytelling represents the way people perceive and interpret past, present and future events. Instead of facts, stories are easy to remember and live on telling and re-telling. In our everyday life, the success of storytelling is widely apparent and becomes visible in music and books, movies and media, architecture, paintings and religion. Besides, storytelling has become an essential element of the business environment to deliver information, manage conflicts, support team building processes, and create emotional bonds with a company’s stakeholders. Particularly, in a brand management context, storytelling is supposed to be a valuable instrument to positively affect consumer brand perception and related behaviour. The aim of this article is to provide insights in the effective adaption of a storytelling approach against the backdrop of value creation and consumer brand perception. Based on the main dimensions of storytelling such as the plot, the story architecture, specific turning points, the experience of a conflict, the interaction of characters, the text style, the narrative form and the key lesson, it will be shown how a credible story has to be arranged in relation to the core elements of a brand.

 

The History of Storytelling

The historical origins of storytelling cannot be traced to a particular time in the past, nevertheless, it can be stated that the desire to hear and tell stories has existed even before humans had the capacity to speech: Cave paintings are the earliest form of story-telling in a time long before languages and writing existed. Stories about past events and warnings of dangers and risks were painted on cave or rock walls to entertain and educate children. Over the times, the development of languages led to the oral tradition of storytelling that spread stories between groups of people through word-of-mouth at e.g., tribal events and campfires. Passing from generation to generation, stories in terms of myths, legends, fairytales, paintings or songs about heroic adventures, experiences, dangers, rituals and natural events were told and retold. Through stories, humans tried to explain the inexplicable and find a reason for incidents in their past and present world. As stated above, before people had the ability to read and write, oral stories represented not only entertainment but also common knowledge and education: Stories transported wisdom and beliefs as part of a cultural heritage and preserved historical record. Reasoning the importance of storytelling, the ability to effectively tell stories was a valuable skill and vest power and social influence. Storytellers had a key role in their community and kept important knowledge alive by inspiring their audience.

As the oldest and most effective form of passing knowledge between generations, the art of storytelling represents the way people perceive and interpret past, present and future events.

Even in our modern times, the power of story-telling is an important part of everyday life and business contexts: Stories transport content and messages better than sheer facts. Referring to the connection between consumers and brands, a creative, authentic story that is told and shared allows the creation of an individual bond that represents a key success factor in a competitive environment. Particularly in marketing and management, storytelling has become increasingly of interest to create desirable images and foster consumer-brand-interaction.

 



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About the Authors

wiedmann-webProf. Dr. Klaus-Peter Wiedmann is a Full Chaired Professor of Marketing and Management and the Director of the Institute of Marketing and Management, Leibniz University of Hannover, Germany. He has many years of experience as a management consultant and top management coach, and takes a leading position in different business organisations as well as public private partnerships. Main subjects of research and teaching as well as consulting are: Strategic Marketing, Brand and Reputation Management, Corporate Identity, International Marketing and Consumer Behaviour.

karampournioti-webSc. Evmorfia Karampournioti is a Scientific Research Assistant at the Institute of Marketing and Management, Leibniz University of Hannover, Germany. Her main subjects of research and teaching as well as management consulting are: International Marketing, Marketing Strategy, Brand Management and Consumer Behaviour

hennigs-webDr. Nadine Hennigs is an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Marketing and Management, Leibniz University of Hannover, Germany. Her main subjects of research and teaching as well as management consulting are: International Marketing, Marketing Strategy, Consumer Behaviour and Luxury Brands.

 

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