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There’s a large movement currently for brands to “tell their story”, to enable them to be more approachable to customers.

Communications pro Gini Dietrich does a great job of showing the strengths of storytelling for brands on her leading Spin Sucks blog.

There are some great examples of brands that win when they insert a more story-like feel to their ad or marketing campaigns. Take Apple and Google, for instance, as highlighted by the two videos below:

Yet, as good as they are (and both gave me a chill when I originally saw each one), they’re still clearly promotional pieces for technology (even though that technology does a great job of bringing people together).

Because of that, they can never quite live up to the same kind of emotion a real human story evokes.

The Simple Power of Love

Two stories came into my radar in the last couple of days, and – for me – show exactly why natural human stories trump brand storytelling.

The first is about two twins in Akron, Ohio, who suffered a rare condition called “monoamniotic birth”, which meant they shared an amniotic sac and placenta while in their mother’s womb.

This is a dangerous condition that could see the twins become entangled in each other’s umbilical cords, starving them of oxygen and leading to major complications.

However, the twins – Jillian and Jenna Thistlethwaite – were born without any major problems last Friday, May 9. And the truly amazing part – they were holding each other’s hands when delivered.

Jillian and Jenna Thistlethwaite

There may be many reasons for this to have happened – but for me, the twins knew the challenges they had to overcome just to survive, and gave each other the strength to do so, and continue to do so outside the warmth of their mother’s body.

As the mother Sarah said:

They’re already best friends. I can’t believe they were holding hands. That’s amazing.

The second story, shared by my friend Justin Kozuch, is about a mother who showed the love for her 18-month old son far outstripped concerns for her own safety when she saved them both from a fire in the apartment where they lived.

Christina Simoes was lying in bed with her son Cameron when she saw flames in the building. The speed of the flames trapped the pair, and the only thing left to do was jump out of the window.

Knowing the fall could be dangerous, Christina wrapped her son tightly to her chest, hugged him and told him she loved him, and then leapt from the building. The fall broke a bone in her back, which may lead to complications and limit Christina’s ability to walk. Cameron escaped with just a bruise on his head.

When asked about her heroism, Christina brushed off the term and simply said:

I didn’t think about it. All I was thinking about was getting him out of there. He mattered way more than I did.

Human Stories, Human Emotions, Human Connections

We, as marketers, talk a lot about connecting emotionally with our audience. Roger Dooley, a consultant and author based in Austin, Texas, has a fascinating blog (and books) on the topic over at Neuromarketing. It’s well worth your time and subscription.

It’s something my co-author Sam Fiorella and I also look at in Chapter 2 of the Influence Marketing book, and how the human psyche controls a lot of our decision-making process when it comes to taking an action.

However, the “problem”, for want of a better word, with emotional marketing is it treads a very fine line between being authentic, and being a slickly-produced video or narrative for a new product. Get this part wrong and the connection you’re looking for is broken.

A real human story, on the other hand, doesn’t suffer from this – because we know it’s real, and that’s where the power comes from.

Brand storytelling is a useful tactic when it comes to awareness and acquisition/retention – but it still plays second fiddle to real human stories (just look at the success of the Humans of New York project).

And as long as people can see the difference between a brand and a human vision, that gap will remain. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing…

There’s currently a fund-raising initiative for Christina Simoes over at gofundme, to help pay medical bills and replace the stuff she lost in the fire. Its aim is to raise $30,000 and presently it sits at $26,027. If you’d like to donate or support, click here for more details.

image: ashabot

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50 Comments on "Why the Human Story Will Always Beat Brand Storytelling"


External Blog: Be Memorable, Get Personal | Celia Xian-Ya Wong's Blog
4 months 15 days ago

[…] of an audience and doing so means they become memorable. With that being said, popular blogger Danny Brown’s says the human story will always beat brand storytelling and I agree. Nothing created by marketers can […]

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[…] the world! They’re relatable. They make you human (see #1). Marketing and social media blogger Danny Brown suggests focusing on exactly that: the human element. Doing so tends to turn off the audience’s cynicism, […]

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8 months 8 days ago

[…] world where standing out from the crowd is more important than ever, stories set you apart and create an initial connection with a new […]

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8 months 24 days ago

[…] There's a large movement around the importance of brand storytelling at the minute. But the human story will always beat brand storytelling, as we see here.  […]

pigeonbrand
9 months 27 days ago

jacksonlloyd011 DisneyPixar our pleasure! Hope you enjoy it.

jacksonlloyd011
9 months 27 days ago

pigeonbrand DisneyPixar I haven’t heard about that book. Thank you for the suggestion! #brandsconnecting #pixar #disney #pigeonbrand

pigeonbrand
9 months 27 days ago

jacksonlloyd011 FastCompany featured an excerpt from it talking about the Pixar Braintrust: http://www.fastcompany.com/3027135/lessons-learned/inside-the-pixar-braintrust (great read)

jacksonlloyd011
9 months 27 days ago

pigeonbrand The Pixar Story documentary that illustrates DisneyPixar’s struggle to make #ToyStory but eventually it was a sucess! #Pixar

pigeonbrand
9 months 27 days ago

jacksonlloyd011 couldn’t agree with you more. What’s been some of your favourite stories told by brands?

jacksonlloyd011
9 months 27 days ago

pigeonbrand Genuine stories that highlight heartfelt connections will always win out. #brandstorytelling

Links for Sunday May 25 2014 - Eric D. Brown
10 months 1 day ago

[…] Why the Human Story Will Always Beat Brand Storytelling […]

Why the Human Story Will Always Beat Brand Stor...
10 months 3 days ago

[…] As long as people can see the difference between a brand and a human vision, brand storytelling will always play second fiddle to real human stories. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.There’s a large movement currently for brands to “tell their story”, to enable them to be more approachable to customers. Communications pro Gini Dietrich does a great job of showing the strengths of storytelling for brands on her leading Spin Sucks blog.There are some great examples of brands that win when they insert a more story-like feel to their ad or marketing campaigns. Take Apple and Google, for instance, as highlighted by the two videos below….  […]

MU_Peter
10 months 5 days ago

northresearch No worries Neal. I understood. Cheers!

northresearch
10 months 5 days ago

MU_Peter Hey Peter, thanks for the RT. The predictive text changed my Thx to The! :-)

AnouskaBell
10 months 5 days ago

franswaine The twins born holding hands must have had people all over saying ahhhhh and smiling. Did me!

DannyBrown
10 months 6 days ago

impactlisa Except maybe the ones about Alf the space alien. But, yes, human stories indeed. :)

Why the Human Story Will Always Beat Brand Stor...
10 months 6 days ago

[…] As long as people can see the difference between a brand and a human vision, brand storytelling will always play second fiddle to real human stories. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There’s a large movement currently for brands to “tell their story”, to enable them to be more approachable to customers. Communications pro Gini Dietrich does a great job of showing the strengths of storytelling for brands on her leading Spin Sucks blog. There are some great examples of brands that win when they insert a more story-like feel to their ad or marketing campaigns. Take Apple and Google, for instance, as highlighted by the two videos below….  […]

HiSocial
10 months 6 days ago

These are some great examples of human story taking up the focus, causing emotions and enabling people to relate, which brand story would not be able to do. Thanks for sharing these examples with us.

ewrWhy the Human Story Will Always Beat Brand S...
10 months 6 days ago

[…] As long as people can see the difference between a brand and a human vision, brand storytelling will always play second fiddle to real human stories. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.There’s a large movement currently for brands to “tell their story”, to enable them to be more approachable to customers. Communications proGini Dietrich does a great job of showing the strengths of storytelling for brands on her leading Spin Sucks blog.There are some great examples of brands that win when they insert a more story-like feel to their ad or marketing campaigns. Take Apple and Google, for instance, as highlighted by the two videos below….  […]

Danny Brown
10 months 10 days ago

BelindaSummers  So true, Belinda. A perfect example is this Canadian company I came across tonight, http://www.hennaheals.ca/, that paints intricate Henna designs on women dealing with hair loss through cancer treatment. It brings a sense of confidence and empowerment to those receiving the designs – and best of all, it’s all run by volunteers!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdP0TzaIMzQ

BelindaSummers
10 months 10 days ago

That’s the problem with business, it lacks heart but the one who can change this belief is the one who triumphs. Gone are the days that business relationship are built through contracts rather it’s about time to used story telling build personal connections and touch more lives. :)

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10 months 10 days ago

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Danny Brown
10 months 10 days ago

Art of Breaking Out  Hi there Craig,
Looking forward to seeing your new project go live, mate – and, yes, HoNY is an amazing project, we need more like that in the world!

Art of Breaking Out
10 months 10 days ago

Hi Danny,

Love this and human storytelling is why I’m starting a new project built around it. I wasn’t even aware of the Humans of NY Project … now I’m slightly addicted ;)

janlgordon
10 months 11 days ago

angelinasimms DannyBrown Thank you for the RT, I agree with you, it was a great article!

Why the Human Story Will Always Beat Brand Stor...
10 months 11 days ago

[…] As long as people can see the difference between a brand and a human vision, brand storytelling will always play second fiddle to real human stories. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  […]

DannyBrown
10 months 12 days ago

thejordanrules Thanks Jordan!

DannyBrown
10 months 12 days ago

juan_diaz_diaz Cheers, mate, appreciated and glad post resonated tweetreachapp