Derek Thompson

#222: Why Your Brand Storytelling Needs to be Familiar, But Novel

#222: Why Your Brand Storytelling Needs to be Familiar, But Novel

As homo sapiens, we walk a tight rope between our desire for new experiences and the fear of anything too new or unfamiliar. And when marketers or advertisers find a perfect balance of the two, the chances for mass appeal rise. But mastering the right amount of novelty and familiarity is an acquired skill.  Therefore, if you learn how to master the ability to create irresistible content through “aesthetic aha”, you can discover the perfect balance that attracts more customers and clients.

To teach us how to leverage this magic is Derek Thompson, a staff writer for The Atlantic, host of the Crazy/Genius podcast and author of Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in the Age of Distraction. Derek’s book examines the question of why people like what they like and provides a blueprint for brand communicators to create content that appeals to the masses. And lucky for us, Derek shares some of those insights so you can utilize these techniques immediately.

Imagine you are in a foreign country – everything is unfamiliar and you are alone. You want to enjoy the adventure but the cloud of the unknown is hanging heavily over you. Then suddenly, you meet someone who knows the area well. Just like that, your fear vanishes, and you feel complete exhilaration. That is a perfect example of an “aesthetic aha”, or in other words, the key component of any classic story.

The aesthetic aha is that moment of thrilling recognition that you are found in a lost world, it is the moment when novelty yields itself into familiarity, and it is that moment that makes a story irresistible.~Derek Thompson

This technique appeals to our biology because as homo sapiens we naturally have a desire for discovery and a bias for familiarity in order to survive. Basically, if you’ve recognized an animal or plant, then it hasn’t killed you.

In your storytelling, find a way to open a new door that reveals a familiar truth and you will hook your audience on a primal level.” ~Derek Thompson

Discussed in this Episode

  • Why repetition is powerful in your storytelling
  • The importance your distribution method has to the success of your message
  • What is “the aesthetic aha” and how to create the perfect “aesthetic aha” to maximize the appeal of your message
  • Why humans like what they like and how certain songs, movies, etc. become hits while others fall flat
  • Why humans are biased to familiarity and how to leverage familiarity and the “mere exposure effect” in your messaging to increase its appeal

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