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June 9, 2014

Is Pressing Play in our DNA? Why We’re Hardwired to Love Video

I know video is not actually part of our genetic code, but why does video resonate so well as a communication tool? Well, it may not be genetic, but it is part of the human evolutionary story.

Storytelling certainly isn't new

Since the dawn of recorded history (or somewhere close to that), we have used visuals as a storytelling tool. Take the drawings from the Lascaux Caves in southwestern France, for example. It’s estimated that these drawings were created around 15000 BC. and they were used to showcase visual stories. Moving forward, the Egyptians’ entire language of hieroglyphics was based solely on visuals and we even use emoticons to express ourselves today. Alright maybe the last one was a stretch, but the truth is we respond strongly to visuals because the human brain has evolved that way. As lyrical as the written word can be, nothing helps tell a story better than impactful visuals.

We all simply love a good story. Does this come from thousands of years of tales being told by the village elders? Yarns being spun to explain the unexplainable? I don’t know for sure, but I think it probably has something to do with it. According to a study done by the Stanford Graduate School of Business, “stories are remembered up to 22 times more than facts alone”. So clearly there’s something there.

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So what the heck does all of this art history and psychology have to do with video?

Don’t worry there will not be a quiz. My point is, if you can couple visuals with a great story, it’s like candy for our brains. You’re grabbing a viewer on multiple levels: visually, intellectually and emotionally. That’s what video does. Our brains crave that kind of chocolate covered, ooey gooey engagement.

A fantastic example of combining great storytelling with video is Google’s “dear.sophie.lee” video which was among the first videos they created to help humanize their products. If you haven’t seen it:

This was a video to promote their web browser Chrome. Google could have created hip and cool videos to show how fast Chrome is or how secure it is and all the great whiz bang features it has. But they didn’t focus on the product; they focused on how the product affected people’s lives. By doing so, it won for them big.

Google used great storytelling with a simple piano score to tell the story of how this Dad is reflecting on his daughter’s life going by so fast. It builds emotion and connection to their products when he says he’s been writing these to her since she was born and he can’t wait to share them with her someday. Bam. Queue water works.

As a parent of two young boys, I was completely drawn in. I didn’t cry though. I mean…there’s no crying in video marketing…. It did, however, make me want to go out and start doing this for my own kids.

As a storyteller I stood and applauded. This video seamlessly tied the knot between Google’s technology and life. The products were there; Gmail, Chrome, YouTube, Google Maps, etc. but they were a backdrop…props if you will, in telling their bigger story. This video arguably helped propel Google Chrome to its fame as the top web browser used in the world today.

When you use video to tell a story, you are not “talking at” the viewer, you are taking the viewer on a journey. You are generating an emotional response. When you tell a story, you shift the viewer from being “marketed to” to being entertained while simultaneously being subtly educated about your brand.

So is video engrained in our genetic code?

Maybe it’s genetic, could be biological, possibly Darwin’s Theory of Evolution in action but, I think there’s something to it. If you can saddle the power of video on the horse of a great story, you’re on the trail to developing a great bond between the viewer and your brand.

What’s more is that video significantly influences your customer’s decisions because of its emotional draw. Take a look at this infographic to see how it works!

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Eric Guerin

Eric Guerin

Eric Guerin is the Founder and Executive Producer at Adelie Studios, an award winning explainer video animation studio that specializes in visual storytelling. Adelie Studios has produced hundreds of explainer videos for startups to big brands to help them stand out in an increasingly competitive environment. Eric can easily be bribed with coffee.

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