The Power of Using Storytelling in Web Design

Storytelling is ingrained in every civilization. Forefathers have been telling stories to the younger generations to preserve the history of their people. Likewise, people remember stories that were told to them when they were young. If told properly, stories will live on in the hearts and minds of people who have heard or read them. The ability of people to recall stories led to the trend of using storytelling to increase brand awareness.

The Need to Put a Story Behind the Brand

Have you ever rooted for somebody to win a televised talent show such as Britain’s Got Talent? If yes, why did you choose that particular person among the hundreds of people who auditioned? The answer to this is because you were caught up in that person’s backstory. Most talent shows will show you a story about a person’s background before they begin their act. The judges of the show will also ask the person questions about his or her background. This format of telling the backstory of a contestant is part of the overall appeal of the show.

Take Paul Potts as an example. He had an underdog backstory that captured audiences’ hearts even before he wowed them with his operatic singing. Later on, he became the first-ever winner of Britain’s Got Talent because he got the greatest number of public votes. Had Paul Potts not had a great back story, do you think that the results will still be the same? The answer is no.

There is a need to put a story behind a brand. A lot of businesses are now incorporating storytelling into their branding strategies to increase brand awareness. However, several businesses still do not know how to develop a unique story for their brand. Here are some of the important factors to know in developing a brand story.

What is a Brand Story?

To create the story for your business or brand, you should first understand what a brand story is. It is not your logo or company colors. A brand story is not the tagline of your company. A brand story is not a sales pitch, nor is it the story that you put on your “about us” page on your website.

A brand story is the essence of your brand that makes it unique from others. It is the complete picture of what your business and brand are all about. A brand story combines your logo, colors, and tagline, which collectively tells a central message. When these all come together cohesively, this message becomes your brand story.

Your brand story must tell your audience the motivation of why you started your business and why you get up in the morning. It must also entice your audience to empathize with you and trust you.

Your brand story should establish connections with your audience. Studies have shown that descriptive stories create connections with the audience. This is known as neural Coupling, which is an effective way of communicating information and build relationships. Businesses use storytelling techniques to send their messages to potential customers to influence them to buy their products and services.

Neutral Coupling can be an influencing tool. 

Research also indicates that a captivating story triggers the audience’s brains to produce stress and feel-good hormones, namely, cortisol and oxytocin. These hormones will allow the audience to focus on your story and feel good when your story reaches a good denouement. A captivating story will cause your audience to empathize with you.

The Importance of Brand Storytelling

It would help if you integrated storytelling into your business strategies. Companies use the neural coupling effect of storytelling to captivate and influence their customers into buying products and services. On the other hand, customers these days are tired of boring advertisements that they see on TV and other media with blatant sales pitches. A new generation of customers is looking for a human connection with brands and businesses. Creating this human connection is where strong brand storytelling is useful.

Brand storytelling is the process of creating a meaningful connection with your target market using a story that tells your core values and what your brand stands for. A great brand story will directly impact consumers’ behavior. A Headstream research shows that fifty-five (55) percent of consumers will more likely purchase a product in the future if they like its brand story, forty-four (44) percent will most likely share the link of the brand story, and fifteen (15) percent will purchase the product on the spot. Likewise, ninety-two (92) percent of consumers want brands to create ads that tell a story.

Storytelling your brand will also create authentic and memorable communications to your target consumers. When you have a very good story to tell about your brand, you may end up creating loyal customers that may become your brand advocates. Here are some of the reasons why brand storytelling is important.

Emotions Are More Memorable than Words. Have you ever been to a wedding or an event that made you feel good? Even after that event, you may still recall the emotions you felt while attending without remembering all the conversations during that time. This same principle holds with branding. When you tell a brand story that triggers your target audience’s good emotions, they will develop a deeper relationship with your brand. When a customer feels good about your brand storytelling, they will begin to trust your business more, and in turn, this will lead to higher revenue on your part.

Empowerment from Empathy. When you create a brand story, do not focus only on your side of the story. In contrast, it is nice for your customers to know how your business started and your core values; you need to put yourself in your consumers’ shoes. You have to learn to empathize with your customers if you want them to empathize with your brand. Create a story showing how your brand is sensitive to global events and values a good customer experience. Consumers will want to purchase products that will make them feel good. And when you create a brand story showing your care for the environment, consumers will feel good about purchasing your products since they will be part of your environmental concerns.

Stories Make Your Brand “Human”. Brand storytelling will allow consumers to see your business not as an entity but more “human” because of your story’s relationships with your consumers. It is important to have a story that is authentic and sincere.

Stories Appeal to Consumer’s Minds. When your brand has an excellent story to tell, you are triggering consumers to create reasons to purchase your product.

How to Integrate Storytelling in Your Web Design

Now that you understand the importance of brand storytelling, it is time to put this principle into practice. One of the main tools that you can use to reach a wider audience is through your website in today’s times. When your website ranks high in Google’s search results, it will be visible to many people who search for keywords relating to your brand. However, being visible to people does not necessarily lead to connecting with them. Your website must be able to tell your brand’s story effectively. While you can write a good story about how your company started and what your core values are in the “about us” section, you can do better by integrating the principle of storytelling while designing your website.

Your web design must be captivating enough that people will focus on your site as they would their surroundings. Imagine yourself picking up a captivating novel and being absorbed in the story that you become unaware of what is happening around you. That is how your website design should be so that your site’s visitors will be focused on hearing your brand story out. Here are the different ways of integrating your brand storytelling into your website.

The Use of Images. Imagery is a critical part of any story. Even if the book you are reading does not have any pictures, the author’s use of descriptive words will create an image in your mind. Fortunately, you can easily incorporate imagery into your website to help your consumers visualize your story. Consumers will prefer images over text because people tend to process visual images easier. Carefully selected images will tell a lot about your product. Dove’s real beauty campaign showing an image of a group of diverse women is effective in telling a story that real beauty is not dictated by body shape, height, age, race, or skin color.

Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign

The Use of Illustrations. Illustrations are also effective in delivering a story. Illustrations can be realistic or abstract and can be combined to deliver different aspects of the story. Different steps in using your brand can be shown using illustrations. Ikea, for example, uses illustrations to show how to assemble their products.

The Use of Background Images. Another way to incorporate storytelling into your web design is by using large background images. You can integrate large visuals into any role of your choosing. You can create a background image using a predominant color to elicit an emotion. There have been researches that connect color with the trigger of specific emotions. Your background may be blurred in some areas while focusing on another area. Whatever role you assign your background image, these visuals are necessary for wrapping your entire website in your brand storytelling. OkCupid has a website with a predominantly pink background. This color is a calming color associated with kindness, femininity, and love. People who visit OKCupid’s website will have their love and nurture emotions triggered by the pink background. This choice of color effectively creates emotions that match the brand’s story of creating perfect couples.

Pink Background Triggers Feelings of Love and Nurture

the-power-of-using-storytelling-in-web-designUsing Words Effectively. The first stories ever told were with words, so it is still important to integrate your story into your website using words. However, people who visit websites will not want to read a very long story. Website visitors will often abandon a website if they see that they will be reading a lot. You have to incorporate your use of words carefully. Every word you use in your web design must contribute to the story you are trying to tell. The homepage of Versett (shown below) uses just one sentence that sums up what they do. Their background image also tells the story of how they work.

The homepage of Versett uses just one sentence that sums up what they do. Their background image also tells the story of how they work.

the-power-of-using-storytelling-in-web-designAdding Personality to Your Website. Personality is becoming an important aspect of web design. Your website’s personality should match your brand’s. If you are marketing your brand to people with specific personalities, your website design should also have matching personalities. If you want to have a casual and informal relationship with your consumers, choose backgrounds, words, and images to create a casual and more relaxed feel.

Parallax Scrolling and Interactivity. Parallax Scrolling is a technique in which multiple layers of a design will respond differently as your website visitors scroll through your website. It creates a sense that you are immersed in the website and that your scrolling actions will determine its effects. Parallax scrolling is an effective tool in engaging your visitors and drawing them into your story.

The website for an SBS Interactive Documentary, sbs.com.au/missing, is an excellent example of a website using parallax scrolling. A user can spend minutes scrolling and moving the mouse cursor all over the page to follow clues to solve a true crime.

the-power-of-using-storytelling-in-web-design

Screenshot grabbed from sbs.com.au.

Parallax scrolling is one technique of creating an interactive website. There are other ways of making your webpage interactive for your visitors, such as having them fill up their names and creating a character or avatar for them as they scroll your website.

The Use of Videos. Incorporating videos on your web design is also an effective technique in telling your brand’s story. Record videos of yourself explaining what your company is about or put testimonial videos about your products. The website of Aviation Gin, owned by Hollywood A-lister Ryan Reynolds, showed a funny video of how their gin is being manufactured. While the video is purely fictional, the product is real, and the video has increased its sales.

Storytelling is part of human history, and a great story has the power to reach people emotionally. Businesses must incorporate storytelling into their website’s designs to reach and obtain more customers.