EMOTION DRIVES MEMORY: Brands Can ‘Ride’ Memory Moments.  

…and now to the BBC

Real science underpinning effective brand storytelling proves that ‘emotional peaks’ are crucial to content memorability.

The Science of Memory report, a global research piece, commissioned by BBC StoryWorks, the content marketing division of BBC Global News uses the latest neuroscience techniques to determine how emotions impact memory, and how brands can create powerful moments that lead to long-term memory creation.

As we know the longer a consumer can recall favourable cues associated with a brand, the higher it will sit in the consideration set at time of transaction, the stronger its brand equity and the more valuable it is overall.

Some key findings in the report are:

[1.] Emotions are a key driver of memory  – the  research demonstrated that, if you’re watching a brand film, the bigger the emotional spike, the more likely it is to trigger long term memory.

[2.] When it comes to triggering long term memory, there is no such thing as a bad emotion. The Science of Memory shows us that the influential factor is the intensity of the emotion being experienced, not the nature of the emotion being experienced, that ensures long-term memory encoding.  In fact, the report shows that 70% of long-term memory encoding peaks are associated with peaks of emotional intensity, regardless of the emotion expressed.

[3.] There are certain strategies which spike emotions and make content more memorable – emotions colour memory e.g. brand films that deliver 10+ emotional peaks sit in the top quartile for memorability overall | the use of intimate personal narratives – stories with one to two main protagonists or content that is personally relevant to the viewer – can make brand stories more memorable.

[4.] The emotions experienced when consuming content are encoded into long-term memory. So stimulating and engaging audiences with storytelling that delivers truly emotional engagement leads to really powerful outcomes for brands.

[5.] Set the emotional stakes early – brand films that triggered their highest emotional intensity in the first third of their duration ultimately delivered stronger memory of the content overall.

[6.]  With emotional peaks, quantity is important. The research has shown that content that provokes numerous peaks of emotional intensity throughout, rather than slow building to a singular event, delivers a higher memory impact.

[7.]  Brands can ‘ride’ memory moments – Emotion often precedes memory. A sudden spike in emotional intensity causes memory encoding to rise shortly afterwards. Seamlessly integrating a brand in the memory window after moments of high emotional intensity allows the brand to ride the wave of the narrative into memory.

The study also suggests practical ways that brands and filmmakers can use these techniques to help create long-term memories in viewers. For example, cinematic devices also serve as a way to keep viewers engaged and lead to memory events. Things like lighting changes, unique camera angles, and changes in music can all help keep the viewer engaged and create a larger opportunity for memory encoding.

Richard Pattinson, SVP BBC StoryWorks, says: “As our new Science of Memory research shows, there is real science that underpins effective brand storytelling and helps us drive the way we create content. But there is also an art to great storytelling – an art that has been part of the BBC’s DNA for almost a hundred years, and continues to resonate in every innovation in storytelling we embark upon. And it’s that combination of art and science that makes BBC StoryWorks uniquely placed to help brands tell their stories.”

You can view the Science of Memory report here.

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