How Your Brand Can Use Emotional Advertising and Storytelling to Sell More

One of the most effective things you can do for your brand is to create an emotional connection with your customers. But what does this mean, exactly? How is this done? One of the best ways to do this is with storytelling.

Many brands have done this for decades: think Apple’s “Think Different” campaign, Google’s “Parisian Love” ad or Nike’s “Find Your Greatness” campaign.

Essentially, you tell a story that your target audience can identify with. They are the hero of the story—or they aspire to be like the hero in your story. They then begin identifying with your brand and have an affinity for your brand. Your brand represents them.

This creates a customer connection which can turn into an emotional purchase and even lifelong loyalty.

Because of modern technology, this has never been easier to do. Creating stories with content is cheaper and easier than it’s ever been. Millions of influencers do it every day on TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube.

But how can your brand tap into this?

Table of Contents:


Using Storytelling in Marketing to Create Emotional Connection

Humans have told stories for tens-of-thousands of years. Using stories taps into the innate human desire for connection. With storytelling, you can convey your brand’s identity, mission, and values through narrative stories and connect them with consumers who hold the same identity and values.

By using elements like characters, conflict, and resolution, brands can create narratives that resonate with their target audience and create an emotional connection.


Emotional Motivators: What Are They and How Do You Use Them?

If you want to connect with people, it helps to define how this happens. There is not a standardized way to describe or define these emotional connections, but many academics and marketers working in this space have developed what are known as “emotional motivators.” Basically, what are the different emotions that people have and gravitate towards? How do they drive our behaviors and decision-making?

Using emotional motivators lets you tap into people’s needs and aspirations. They can include emotions such as joy, fear, sadness, hope, acceptance, and belonging. These can be extended to include safety and security, the pursuit of happiness, fulfillment, and the fear of missing out. Tapping into emotional motivators allows marketers to create messages that resonate with consumers.


Choosing Emotional Motivators for Your Brand

You must know your audience. How do they see themselves? What are their values? The answers to these types of questions will allow you to know which emotional motivators to use in your branding and marketing materials.

Emotional motivators can include:

  • Sense of belonging
  • Stand out from the crowd
  • Sense of achievement
  • Attain success
  • Have hope or confidence in the future
  • Enjoy a sense of well-being
  • Feel a sense of freedom
  • Feel a sense of thrill
  • Live up to my self image
  • Self improvement
  • Sense of security
  • Sense of control
  • Sense of creativity
  • Fear of missing out (FOMO)


How to Create Emotional Connections with Storytelling

The stories you tell with your branding and marketing are built the same as those you’ve seen in your favorite movies or TV shows. The elements are the same, even if it’s a :30 Super Bowl ad or a :20 TikTok.

Many people define a story as having a beginning, middle, and end. However, that structure doesn’t tell you how each section operates. What is supposed to happen in the beginning, middle, and end?

In the simplest terms, you need a hero (main character), a goal for your hero, and an obstacle. Your hero will then attempt to achieve their goal, suffer a failure (or multiple), and then finally reach their goal in a climax, followed by a resolution.

In Budweiser’s 2024 Super Bowl ad, “Old School Delivery,” we can see this story structure play out.

The hero, the beer delivery man, must deliver beer to the bar, but the roads are closed due to snow. He attempts to reach his goal by using horses to transport the beer through the rough terrain. The snow is so strong, they “can’t see anything” and lose their way. But a local dog finds them and shows them the way. The bar patrons get their beer.

This is how the story structure breaks down:

Hero: Beer delivery man

Goal: Deliver beer to the bar

Obstacle: Snow storm and closed roads

Attempt to reach goal: Man uses horses to transport the beer

Failure: Gets lost in the snow storm

Climax: Local dog shows them the way

Resolution: Bar patrons get their beer

What are the possible emotional motivators in this ad? Possibly to “overcome life’s obstacles,” “persevere,” or “succeed in life.”

This same structure is achieved in a more complex way in Nike’s “Find Your Greatness” ads. The hero is clearly the jogger, but his action is consistent throughout the entire ad. In order to create the different story elements, the ad uses a narrator to define the jogger’s goal, obstacle, failure, and climax.

Hero: Boy jogger

Goal: Become “great”

Obstacle: The belief that greatness is reserved for the best athletes

Attempt to reach goal: Boy jogger runs down an empty road, alone

Failure: We convince ourselves to stand by watching the best athletes be great

Climax: Ignore the belief that only the best athletes can be great and do what you’re capable of

Resolution: Boy continues jogging

This ad has strong “self improvement” and “live up to my self image” emotional motivators. This reflects the messaging that Nike has presented for decades and mirrors their “Just Do It” tagline.


Tips for Creating Emotional Advertising

Understand Your Target Audience

The first step in creating emotional advertising is to understand your audience and how your brand relates to their life, identity, and desires.

  • Read your brand’s reviews
  • Read comments on your social media accounts, plus other social listening
  • Look for comments on Reddit and other forums about your products
  • Repeat this for your competitors
  • Conduct market research

With this information, you can understand your customers’ pain points, define their desires, and the values and identity that your brand should cater to.

Determine Your Emotional Motivators

Determine the emotional motivators that align with your target audience and brand. Essentially, which emotions do you want to convey and evoke? Which emotions will resonate with your target audience?

Brainstorm Story Ideas

Next, you’ll want to brainstorm story ideas that represent the emotions you’ve chosen. The ideas should also reflect other elements of your target audience’s identity. When Budweiser was brainstorming for the “Old School Delivery” Super Bowl ad, you can imagine they wanted to use a blue collar worker as opposed to a Wall Street banker. They wanted this blue collar worker to persevere and have a sense of accomplishment.

Write Your Script

Sit down and write a draft of your story using the story beats we identified above. Don’t worry about the first draft being good, much less perfect. It’s important to get something down on paper. Then you can go back and analyze how the different story beats work, and then make adjustments and edit as many drafts as needed to make it feel right.


Contact COLAB to Tap Into Emotional Branding with Storytelling

Emotional advertising is one of the most powerful things you can do to connect with your audience. Storytelling has proven to be an effective way of accomplishing this.

If you’d like to tap into emotional marketing for your brand, contact us today. We can help define your brand’s identity, emotional motivators, and then develop scripts and storyboards for larger projects, or quick outlines for short-form ads.

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