Originally posted on the Fast Company website by Duke Greenhill, excerpts below.
“Storytelling” is a hot topic in marketing these days, but can you put an actual price on a compelling brand story? For over a decade, I’ve made a career as a marketer by leveraging the processes and techniques I learned as a filmmaker and fiction writer–the processes and techniques of narrative storytelling. I’ve met with executives to sell them on the idea of putting money behind brand storytelling, or the practice of capitalizing on proven narrative strategies in a business context. This includes not only consumer-facing communications, but also corporate communications. Speechwriting, public appearances, strategic partnerships, public relations, internal communications, and thought-leadership are all enhanced by good storytelling.
Mere common sense is usually all it takes to convince an executive that controlling public image–controlling the corporate story–has business advantages. And with corporate and brand storytelling as hot topics in marketing circles lately, I’ve found myself having to do less and less convincing.
The Product-Level Value Of Story
The founders of the website Significantobjects.com, a site devoted to quantifying the bottom-line power of story at a product level, say, “Stories are such a powerful driver…that their effect on any given [product’s] subjective value can be measured objectively.” The website is home to an experiment that goes like this: the founders buy thrift store, garage sale, and flea market products, always cheap, no more than a couple dollars at most. Then, they hire a writer to compose a fictional story about the product, imbuing it with heritage, history, and ostensibly, value. The once-valueless products, accompanied by their new stories, are then sold auction-style on eBay. The difference between the original purchase price and story price is recorded as the objective value of that story.
The takeaway results for the first 100 products bought, storied, and then resold on eBay are poignant and telling. On average, the original product price was $1.29. But the average resale price after a story was added grew to a staggering $36.12. All in all, the experiment shows that even at a micro level, story can increase product value by a whopping 2,706 percent.
The Brand-Level Value Of Story
Nothing makes an executive or corporate stakeholder happier than skyrocketing stock prices, and many case studies suggest that a strong brand story effort can not only increase the value of individual products and services, but also the value of companies and brands themselves.
Of course, marketing isn’t the only force at play when it comes to stock prices. But the effect on revenue and brand equity of conjuring consumer emotion through powerful brand stories cannot be denied. The business case is solid. All that remains is for you to tell your brand’s story.