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Thinking

Thought Leadership for Healthy Food & Beverage Brands​

Winning Hearts Through Storytelling

By Victoria Walling


Stories play a huge role in everyone’s lives. They matter because they bring ideas to life, make people feel something, and create powerful connections between a brand and an audience. Remarkably, the most effective stories are the ones that win the hearts of its readers.

The better-for-you F&B CPG industry is not exempted from the expectations of telling great stories to captivate their audiences and influence them to eat and drink healthy. Convincing people to choose healthy every day is a challenging task for brands in the industry. It’s when a company can develop that emotional connection between consumers and their brand will they be able to win the hearts of their audiences and grow even further.

Unfortunately, storytelling is not an easy task for brands to do. It requires research, creativity, and the skills of painting a picture vividly. How can better-for-you F&B CPG brands capture the interest of their market and convince them to go healthy?

The answer - you need to deep dive into the science and emotion of storytelling first so you can come up with creative, impactful, and effective stories for your brand.


Understanding the Science and Emotion of Storytelling


Great storytelling can literally affect the brain. How? For example, a story that resonates well with an audience can increase one’s oxytocin levels. Oxytocin is the chemical that increases a human’s level of trust and empathy. It motivates us to experience the emotions of other people. It’s also referred to as the ‘love hormone,’ and that’s what many of us feel when we see, hear, or read a great story.

There is also the concept of Neural Coupling when a story is told effectively and received well by a listener or audience, the levels of communications are increased and the synchronized brain activity lead to enhanced understanding and memory. And when a story hits hard, a listener becomes your main marketing touchpoint – he or she passes it on to another person.

As humans, we love stories because of the emotional journeys it takes us on. If we associate with the characters, the plot, and even everyday circumstances that happen, the narratives mean so much more. We see ourselves in the characters and feel something towards them. We are joyful when they succeed, we feel blue when they go through pain, and we follow their journey as if it’s our own.

And this is the power of story. Consumers do not want plain information. They want to be taken on a journey. And as HF&B brands, if you are able to utilize great stories that resonate with your target audiences, then your journey becomes part of their journey.


Winning Hearts with Effective Storytelling


Today’s consumers have limited time and shrinking attention spans. Brands are finding it harder to capture their audience’s attention with the vast number of resources, videos, and stories accessible to people today.

Good writing is a rare commodity but it has great benefits for brands. With great stories, you will be able to convert shoppers who feel confident purchasing products from you. Building emotional connections with customers ensure they come back repeatedly and support the products that brands sell.

Brand storytelling requires creativity because you are indirectly selling your ‘brand’ when you tell stories. You get to easily compress information while being able to convey the idea, message, or essence of what you want to impart to your audience.

Below are some tips that you can follow to jumpstart your brand storytelling creation:

#1: Paint a Picture, Show don’t Tell

It never gets old. You’ll always hear this from great writers – show don’t tell. It’s vital that when you start creating brand stories, you use descriptive words that evoke deeper feelings for the characters and their problems.

For example, as HF&B brands, rather than telling your consumers that healthy is the way to go, use emotionally-charged and descriptive narratives so your audience imagines a scenario. Remember that when you are trying to sell to people, your stories need to get personal to reveal how your brand (or product) has affected and transformed a person’s life. This then becomes much more relatable and effective than just sticking to listing down of facts.

Sentimental stories appeal more if you are painting a success story. Humor, on the other hand, works for some businesses when they are trying to make light of a situation in an attempt to capture attention immediately.


#2: Zero in on Personal Benefits

It’s not about the better-for-you F&B CPG that you sell. It’s about the individual who will be making that purchase. How can their life be changed? How can your brand help them in their own journeys to becoming healthy?

For example, your new plant-based meat alternative makes consuming protein more earth-friendly and healthier. Is your story about protein? No, it’s about the person who has the opportunity to choose a healthier option for protein. It’s about giving the person the freedom to not feel guilty while still enjoying plant-based meat. It’s about peace of mind, certainty, and security.

Frame your story around people more than around the company. If you can help create narratives that focus on how both your brand and your product evoke an emotion, the better your stories will be.


#3: Create Long-Term Characters and Stories

Instead of just sticking to norm – brand mascots for example as the primary character for your brand, you can use your market’s buyer personas as characters instead. How come? It’s because when your target market can relate with your consumers, their emotional connection and affinity to your brand grow organically.

When you create a character with your customers in mind, make sure you make it long-term. Give them an arc and continue the story through newsletters, or even social media. This can very well be part of your email campaign. Your brand stories should never be written as standalone short stories. Think of a long-term story arc where you create challenges for your characters that your target market relates to, and motivate your audience to support your characters as they go through these obstacles.

It’s great to have snippets of the story given at certain times. Leave your audience hanging so that they look forward to the next piece and follow your brand story. Just make sure that all your narratives have the same voice and tonality. Ensuring that you tell your story seamlessly across different platforms and touchpoints will make your brand storytelling efforts much more meaningful and memorable.


#4: Always Align with Your Brand Promise

No one likes a company that creates stories that are misaligned with their brand promise. Never confuse your audience by making sure your stories are always consistent with your image and brand promise. If your target market is unable to connect and understand how your narrative relates to their perception of your brand, they will end up forgetting you because you don’t meet their expectations.

For example, let’s go back to Dream Milk (read this in my article Battling Choice Fatigue). If your brand revolves around providing almond milk that keeps blood sugar levels down, then you story should zero in on that. Dream Milk’s brand image is one of freedom, enjoyment, and without the feeling of guilt. Your marketing efforts and campaigns should be around characters that live the Dream Milk brand lifestyle. Elicit emotions through brand stories that drive emotional connections, and reinforce the relationship between your brand and audience in every interaction.

It’s imperative that companies today focus on building emotionally charged narratives. Brand stories, in fact, are key to developing brands that succeed today because they appeal to consumers at a deeper level. Brands are able to win the hearts of their target audiences when they share stories that mean so much more to their market.

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