The key to making content memorable is delivering multiple emotional peaks, with brand films that deliver 10+ emotional peaks in the top quartile for memorability overall, according to new research from the BBC.

The broadcaster used neuroscientific research to explore the relationship between emotion and long-term memory in delivering engaging branded content. The resulting Science of Memory report revealed that 70% of long-term memory encoding peaks are associated with peaks of emotional intensity, regardless of the emotion expressed.

In an exclusive article for WARC, authors Sally Wu, Hamish McPharlin and Caitlin Harley explain: “If we can create brand stories that will be encoded into a consumer’s long-term memory, the more likely they are to recall your brand when they’re looking to buy.” (For more on how branded content can connect with consumer emotions, click here.)

“Beyond immediate purchase behaviour,” they add, “memory is also essential in building brand equity and ensuring that it is there in our heads at a point in the future where we have to make a brand choice.”

Perhaps unexpectedly, "shouty" advertising can cause the brain to tune out, because a function of the orbito frontal cortex (part of the brain involved in cognitive processing of decision-making) stops humans being too susceptible to influence. If branding is too overt, it can cause this function to kick in. However, subtle branding can often work better because it gets in “under the radar”.

There are two ways to ensure long-term memory encoding occurs through a piece of content: using intimate personal narratives – stories with one to two main protagonists – or creating content that is personally relevant to the viewer.

“Brand films that triggered their highest emotional intensity in the first third of their duration were more memorable overall – the key is to rev the emotional engine early in branded content films. Don’t save the big emotional punch to the end,” the researchers advise.

Sourced from WARC