Ultimately, all memories include some combination of sensory elements, contextual details, cognitive processes involved when that memory was formed, abstract concepts, and meaning. To make the search for memories easier in the mind, appealing to emotion ensures retrieval because of an additional marker in memory. When we look at the combination of these elements, they provide the formula for memorable brand storytelling. To create the greatest impact in your brand story remember these ten keys:
1. Memorable brand stories contain the following components: perceptive (sensory impressions in context and action across a timeline), cognitive (facts, abstract concepts, and meaning), and an effective (emotion).
2. Something is concrete if we can perceive it with our senses.
If we can’t perceive it with our senses, we are talking about
an idea or a concept, which is abstract. Balance both in your communication and, to avoid habituation, break the pattern an audience learns to expect.
3. While abstract and concrete are opposites, generic and specific are subsets of each other, with generic being a large group and specific representing an individual item within that group. Zoom in on specific details based on your audience’s level of expertise (advanced audiences can handle abstracts better).
4. Text and graphics have the potential to be equals in memory. Make pictures easy to label and text easy to picture.
5. Pair abstract words with concrete pictures to ensure that your audience extracts a uniform meaning from your message.
6. Use visual metaphors to explain abstract concepts. Steer away from clichéd metaphors by either giving an old metaphor a fresh meaning or using unexpected metaphors.
7. Wrap abstract words in concrete contexts. Repeat information in the same context for verbatim memory. Vary the context for gist memory.
8. Appeal to the senses to activate multiple parts of the brain and create more memory traces. The more personal experiences you share, the more opportunities to include sensory details.
9. Avoid clichéd images. Instead, use vivid images to evoke tension, mystery, wabi-sabi, or nostalgia.
10. Use strong emotions by showing an audience how to:
- Move toward rewards: pleasure, happiness, elation, ecstasy,
love, sexual arousal, trust, empathy, beauty.
- Move away from rewards: frustration, indignation, disbelief, sadness, anger, rage.
- Move toward punishments: apprehension, disgust, aversion, fear, terror, unfairness, inequity, uncertainty, social exclusion.
- Move away from punishments: relief, liberation.
Contributed to Branding Strategy Insider by: Carmen Simon, PhD, co-founder of Rexi Media and the author of Impossible to Ignore: Creating Memorable Content to Influence Decisions. Shared with the permission of McGraw-Hill Professional.
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