7 Powerful Ways To Inspire Emotion With Storytelling

Have you ever seen an ad that made you cry, got angry, or gave you goosebumps? Rihanna’s Road to Halftime ad gave fans everywhere goosebumps. Apple Music is the new sponsor of the Super Bowl halftime show in a new multi-year deal with the NFL. They offered fans an alternative way to experience the event with headliner Rihanna, calling it “Rihanna’s Road to Halftime”.


Building on the excitement ahead of Super Bowl LVII, Apple has released an ad that pays tribute to the singer’s childhood in Barbados titled “Run This Town.” The ad tells a great story, following a girl walking down the street wearing her mother’s sunglasses, past Rihanna’s childhood home, and renamed in 2017 to honor her success on Rihanna Drive. It ends with the girl and her friends flying kites, “My whole life is built on this road. I’m just a small island girl flying kites in a graveyard…but I have big dreams. Rihanna said she is representing immigrants, her country of Barbados and black women everywhere for Super Bowl LVII.

What’s really surprising about this story is that we saw the first pregnant woman perform at the Super Bowl halftime show, without special guests, loudly and proudly saying that a pregnant woman can handle it. She opened with the song “B… Better Have My Money”, inspired by the real-life experience of an accountant who cheated her out of her money. Within a decade she became a billionaire. She opened with the song on her own stage, pregnant, with no special guests, and ended with “Diamonds” (she has all the diamonds) on her Fenty brand’s amazing product placement, drawing attention. 113 million viewers. Rihanna is the richest female musician in the world ($1.7 billion), second only to Oprah Winfrey. This is no small feat!

Knowing Rihanna’s story makes this ad, this Super Bowl halftime show, and her brand even more interesting and relatable. When stories resonate and connect with us, they trigger an emotion in us that leads to a deeper, more meaningful relationship with your brand. This is called emotional branding.

Let’s look at what emotional branding is and how to evoke emotion with storytelling.

What is Emotional Branding?

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Did you know that people make emotional purchases without realizing it, and then rationalize their decisions? Fifty percent are brand experiences Based on emotions. Creating an emotional bond with consumers requires more than good marketing.

Emotional branding refers to creating a deep emotional connection between your consumers and your brand. Marketers can achieve this by appealing to consumers’ natural desire for love, power, emotional security, and ego satisfaction.

Storytelling is at the heart of emotional branding. So how do you evoke emotion with storytelling?

Evoke emotion with storytelling

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We all have a story to tell. Great stories can connect with audiences on a deeper, more memorable level, creating more meaningful relationships. Here are five ways you can use storytelling to evoke emotion.

Make the audience the hero

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An effective way to evoke emotion with a story is to make the audience the hero of the story. This can be achieved by creating a narrative that resonates with the experiences, values ​​and aspirations of the audience. By doing so, the audience becomes emotionally invested in the story and empowered to take action or make positive change. To achieve this, the story should highlight the audience’s strengths and potential while recognizing their challenges and struggles. By portraying the audience as the hero, the story can inspire them to overcome obstacles, pursue their dreams, and make a difference in their lives and the world around them.

Drive empathy

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In order to evoke emotion with storytelling by increasing empathy, it is important to create characters that the audience can relate to and care about. This can be achieved by showing the character’s struggles, fears and desires in a way that resonates with the audience. By creating a sense of empathy between the audience and the characters, a story can evoke powerful emotions and create a lasting impact.

Another way to foster empathy is to use descriptive language and vivid imagery to create a sensory experience for the audience. By appealing to the audience’s emotions, a story can create a more immersive and emotional experience, helping them connect more with the story and its characters. It’s important to use storytelling to break down barriers and connect with audiences on a human level. By sharing honest, vulnerable and authentic stories, the audience feels a sense of kinship with the narrator and the characters in the story. It helps to increase empathy and create a powerful emotional response.

Make it emotional

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To harness emotion with storytelling, it’s essential to understand the emotional journey you want to take your audience on. First, build tension by creating anticipation and excitement by increasing the emotional impact of a moment in your audience. This can be achieved by using dramatic language, allusions or cliffhangers. Second, create emotional impact through different emotions. For example, you might start with a moment of sadness or despair and then follow it with hope or success. This can create a more powerful emotional response in your audience. Third, use repetition (repeating a phrase or image throughout your story) to develop familiarity and emotional resonance with your audience. Fourth, use universally understood symbols to create a deep emotional connection with your audience. Fifth, use music and sound effects to create a more immersive experience.

Build the suspense

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Suspense is a powerful tool in storytelling that can be used to create an emotional impact on an audience. By building tension and anticipation, the audience becomes emotionally invested in the story, eager to find out what happens next. This can be achieved by setting high stakes for the characters, using foreshadowing, creating a sense of mystery, using cliffhangers, and changing the pace of the story. Using these techniques, the audience is taken on an emotional journey, experiencing a range of emotions such as excitement, fear and anticipation. When a tense moment is finally resolved, the emotional releases are cathartic and rewarding, leaving a lasting impact on the audience.

Be vulnerable

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Embrace vulnerability in your story. It is important to share personal experiences authentically and honestly. By sharing stories that reflect your weaknesses, you can create an emotional connection with your audience. This connection is often built on common ground of shared experiences and emotions, which helps your audience empathize and relate to your story. Use descriptive language that describes sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures to create an immersive experience to draw your audience in and help them feel the emotions you’re describing. Also, allow yourself to see yourself as imperfect, flawed, or uncertain. By showing your own vulnerability, you create a sense of authenticity and honesty that is very powerful to your audience. It also develops a sense of connection and empathy so that your audience can see themselves in your story.

Don’t forget to be brave in your vulnerability. By sharing your personal experiences and emotions, you are opening yourself up to rejection, criticism, or judgment. However, by being brave and sharing your vulnerability, you create a space for others to do the same, which can be very powerful and healing for you and your audience.

Visual Storytelling

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Use descriptive language to create a clear picture in your audience’s mind. This helps your audience better visualize and feel the emotions you are describing. One way to use visual language is to paint a picture with your words. Use descriptive language to create a detailed picture in your audience’s mind, focusing on sensory details that help develop atmosphere and emotion. For example, instead of saying, “The sun is setting,” you might say, “The sun is glowing a warm, orange color in the sky as it slowly descends toward the horizon.” This type of description helps to create a sense of warmth, peace and tranquility and helps to evoke a sense of emotion in your audience.

Another way to use visual language is to create a metaphor or analogy that helps your audience better understand the feeling you’re describing. For example, you might say, “Her heart is a heavy stone, sinking deeper into her chest with each passing moment.” This type of language helps your audience better understand the emotion of sadness and makes it easier for them to empathize with the character in your story.

By following these steps, you can develop a strong emotional connection with your audience through inspiring storytelling. Done right, you can increase brand loyalty, improve your brand’s overall equity, drive more qualified leads, and increase your customer retention rate. For a step-by-step guide on how to develop a brand strategy, Check out my bookHow to Develop a Brand Strategy. Start building your brand leadership today. You got it.

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