Market Stories, Not Facts

Market Stories, Not Facts


Remember that old storybook your mom or dad would read to you at night as a child?

Do you find it strange that even though it has been years since you last even thought about that story, you’re still able to remember bits and pieces of the plot, maybe what the main character wore or at least how the story ended?

Now try to remember those facts and figures you read about in yesterday’s news article or the list of ingredients in that granola bar you tried out. Can’t recall? I’m not surprised.

Many studies over the years have proven that the human brain is inherently wired to be far more engaged by stories than by cold, hard facts. When reading a story, we use the same parts of our brain that would be used if we were actually experiencing what we were reading, almost like a virtual reality role-playing game.

On the other hand, reading straight facts only utilizes the language part of the brain to translate it and then we’re essentially done with the information.

I’m explaining this psychological process in order to illustrate why 92% of consumers want brands to make ads feel like stories. Also consider the fact that our brains process images 60 times faster than words and you can see why more and more marketers are embracing the science of storytelling and producing short films in order to create quality advertising that effectively resonates with consumers.

For example, Chipotle consistently touts how they are “all about simple, fresh food without artificial flavors or fillers” and how the company only uses non-GMO ingredients in their kitchens. Yes, that’s great and all but the average consumer will eventually forget about these spoken/written benefits, lost amongst the 100,000 plus words that the average American consumes in a day.

Now watch the “The Scarecrow” short film that Chipotle created and see which strategy resonates with you more:


If you didn’t choose the video, you’re probably not human (just kidding, unless you’re a robot reading this in the future). The short film does the job of an entire campaign in less than five minutes without even having to display a single fact on the screen. Not only does the film establish an emotional connection with the viewer, but you better believe that the images seen in the video will stick in the mind of the consumer much longer than any straight forward fact read on a company website.

The point of this post is simple: consumers do not want to read bulleted lines of why you think your product is great; they want to be immersed in a multifaceted story where they are able to create a memorable experience with your brand.

Storytelling is something that the human mind craves and something that marketers should strive to satisfy.

The End


2 thoughts on “Market Stories, Not Facts

  1. Enjoyed reading your post Sam! You made several important points about how humans seem natively “hard-wired” by the way our brains function, to rapidly process and remember, information when its encoded in the form of a story, rather than memorizing facts. I know when I saw Chipotle’s Scarecrow video the first time, that their commitment to food has been the 1st thing I remember when I think about the Chipotle brand. Because customers can so easily use social media, digital platforms like YouTube or website review sites like Yelp to add their voice to any brand storytelling execution, it seems as though it is ever more important for marketers to understand customers perceptions of the brand and tell them relevant stories that ring true to their product/service experience. One of the reasons that Chipotle’s Scarecrow short film works so well is the depth of the company’s commitment to local high-quality food sourcing in its everyday operations, even as the company responds to the second wave of E. coli cases in CA, OH, MN and NY, that have been linked to foods eaten at Chipotle restaurants.


  2. Hi Sam –

    Great read here! When you mentioned an old story book I instantly thought of “Where The Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak. That book was magical to me growing up and one I read frequently myself after it was read to me several times growing up. I can tell you basically the entire book and how it goes. You make a great point when saying storytelling really sticks with your reader rather than just numbers and figures.

    I completely agree when reading something of interest to me or that proves to be compelling, I tend to remember it greater than someone throwing me a “sales pitch.” I think that emotional connection is what is really going to drive that relationship with the consumer and keep them loyal to you and remember your brand and content above others. Imagery really does stick great than figures so why not go with a compelling story, video or image rather than spewing facts no one will remember? It is a valid argument.


    – Kels


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