Read More Fiction

A recent study has found that reading works of fiction has a strong correlation with increased empathy. As a designer, seeking to understand a client’s perspective, as well as their audience, is vital to an effective design solution. Which means I’m swapping out a tome on typography for C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy (thanks for the recommendation, Tim!).

Consider the details of the research study and you too might be convinced to put down that dull technical book you are reading for work and grab your favorite piece of literature that’s been collecting dust on the shelf. The researchers found that people who read fictional stories and experienced emotional transportation into the narrative showed increased empathy over the course of one week. The important qualifier there is that readers are emotionally transported — without that key element the study found that readers actually experienced decreased empathy. And those who read non-fiction displayed no signs of either positive or negative changes in empathy.

This is more evidence of the power of storytelling. If you want your customers to be emotionally engaged with your brand, build a narrative around it. Share testimonies in a compelling way, but don’t just share the stories of your patients or customers—tell your story as well. I’m not suggesting that communication between brand and audience be fictional. Rather, we should critically consider the ways in which we communicate to ensure this key element of emotional transportation is present. Be authentic, be engaging. And when your audience tells your story they will be, too.