The power of brand storytelling

Executive summary

Headstream commissioned in-depth independent research into brand storytelling to help define what stories consumers want to see, how well brands tell stories and how storytelling impacts behaviour.

We found that the best stories tend to come from regular people who have engaged with the brand and are willing to share their experiences with the world. The findings made it clear that customer advocacy should be at the core of all content marketing and storytelling campaigns:
● 79% of UK adults think it’s a good idea for brands to tell stories
● What people most want to see and hear are stories about regular people and/or brand customers, not celebrities, employees or the brand’s founder. There is also a preference for stories of real people and events vs. those about fictional characters
● 64% of people think brands are currently good at telling stories
● 43% of all adults want stories to be humorous
● The top format for storytelling is video, with photos second and articles third
● And if people really love a brand story, more than half (55%) are more likely to buy the product in the future, 44% will share the story and 15% will buy the product immediately.

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The power of brand storytelling © 2015 Headstream
Introduction and methodology

Storytelling is the conveying and sharing of events through words and images for entertainment and/or education. Brand storytelling is where businesses do exactly that through their marketing and corporate communications.

The digital revolution of the past twenty years – and the associated content revolution – has thrown the need for stories into sharp focus. Brands have begun to realise that if they want to engage modern, sophisticated consumers they need to do more than just talk about how great their products are. Instead, they can humanise
and warm their approach through narrative.

From our own experience at Headstream, we understand that marketers and consumers interpret the discipline of brand stories in different ways. There is no consistent definition of what ‘brand storytelling’ entails and no one-size-fits-all approach that brands can adopt. The only constant is that every brand, quite rightly, believes it should be doing it.

This is why we’ve carried out a major piece of research among UK consumers. Our intention is to further understand how they interpret brand storytelling, given its high importance amongst marketers, and what effect brand storytelling has on their behaviours and attitudes.

Do they think stories matter? What do they consider a good story? What impact does a good brand story have on their buying habits?

This report enables us to develop the conversation around brand storytelling and help educate/influence our clients on its importance as part of any broader content strategy. It provides empirical evidence of the importance of storytelling and , perhaps more importantly, identifies the types of stories that consumers prefer to hear and see.

Headstream’s survey was conducted independently among 2,000 UK adults in April 2015. The sample was selected from our partner research agency’s panels, which are balanced across regional age, and gender demographic factors.

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