6 Tips to Effectively Use Storytelling to Boost Your Brand

Featured Image: Alan Gill

‘You’re never going to kill storytelling, because it’s built into the human plan. We come with it.’  Margaret Atwood, Author.

Think about the times when you were happiest and you will be reminded of your grandmother or parent reading your favorite story. Those happy moments stuck with you because they have the power to change the way you feel, think, act and do what you never thought you were capable of.

Today, smart brand managers realize that because stories stay with you for a lifetime, it’s the best way to get the word out and influence people.

So What is Brand Storytelling?

In the marketing world, storytelling is the process of emotionally engaging your customer by telling them where you are coming from and what your mission is. If you want your customers to notice your brand, you need to tell your brand’s story in the most captivating manner that will inspire them to connect with your products, whether it is through a logo design, website design, email or marketing material . After all, that is the essence of branding.

Here are some powerful brand stories which will inspire you into creating an influential story that touches the hearts of your customers.

Tip 1: Reveal Your Humanity

The one thing which is common among all storytellers is that they appeal to your human side. They have that element of connection that many company owners don’t pay attention to. So when you are planning your own story, be sure to add something your customers can connect to.

The Askinosie Chocolate, a relatively small company, understands this fact. This is why, this considerably small, Springfield based company decided to feature a photo of the farmer whose beans were used to make the bar the customer buy. The entire packaging of each of these bars of chocolate is personal and even the strings are cut by women who stay in shelters of the town.
Askinosie Chocolate Credit: NPR

Tip 2: Appeal to One and All

Great stories are loved by one and all. It doesn’t matter if you are an adult or child who is watching the movie, advert or series because it will appeal to you in one way or the other. Your story needs to delight the young adolescents ready to explore the world as well as the slightly older generation who are interested in something a little more enlightening.

The Lego Movie is one of the best examples of brand storytelling. This multimillion dollar company has taken branding to a whole new level by producing a 90 minute movie of pure joy for all those who watch it.
LegoCredit: Alan Gill

Tip 3: Keep it Short and Sweet

Though you’ll find many stories that are more than five minutes long, the most effective are the short ones. Because your story will probably be watched online or on TV, you must make it so that it grabs the viewer’s attention within a few seconds.

Keeping it short and sweet is exactly what Google does, this is why, one of its stories went viral within minutes of being aired.  Google’s short video, “We’re All Storytellers’ was aired during a commercial break during the Oscars show on ABC and it did justice to the 60-seconds slot it occupied.
GoogleCredit: AdWeek

Tip 4: Hit It Where It Hurts

Why is it that great stories have an impact on everyone who watches them? The answer is simple; they all hit it where it hurts. Anyone who has had a great story to tell will focus on the issues or topics which are trending. So if you want your target audience to reflect on what your campaign or ad has conveyed make sure it is something that is important to them.

One restaurant chain which has realized the vitality of hitting where it hurts is Chipotle. Chipotle is basically a Mexican Grill that serves tacos and gourmet burritos. Because processed foods have been under the radar for quite some time, their ‘The Scarecrow’ has been successful in doing what it was created for – make people believe that not everything labeled ‘natural’ is good.
ChipotleCredit: New Yorker

Tip 5: Bring Out the Emotions

Ads that are able to strike a chord are the ones which viewers love the most. Though you are marketing your products, your commercial shouldn’t be very direct but should instead aim to bring out the viewer’s emotions. These are the sort of ads which motivate people to believe in themselves and their strengths.

Dove has always been one of the pioneering brands in storytelling. One of their documentaries which attracted attention was the “Beauty Sketches”. This short film used a sketch artist to compare the way people view themselves and the way others see them. The results were astounding.
DovePhoto Credit: DailyMail

Tip 6: Wrap it Up with Style

Finally, the film or ad that you are producing must end with a clear message that makes people think even after it has ended. Storytelling has two objectives – it helps your target audience connect with your brand and makes them see in depth.

The Imagin8ion project produced by Canon with Ron Howard is one which will leave you in tears. The project started with Ron Howard, the legendary film director (A Beautiful Mind), selecting eight photos and the goal was to build a story from these pictures. The resulting movie was not only moving but helped viewers see how people dealt with the death of a parent from when they were a child till the time they grew up.
CanonPhoto Credits: ArsenalFxFilm

Great storytelling comes from the heart. It’s all about your brand, the time you spent building it and most importantly, your customers. So go over each of the six tips, implement them in your own short film and aim to connect with all those who watch it. Once you do this and show your story to the world, you can be sure of a positive shift in your overall brand strategy.

Latest: How effective is storytelling?

We floated this question among practitioners – industry leaders, marketers, entrepreneurs, and professionals – all have pitched in with the following ideas and more, in discussions in these groups:
Succeed: Small Business Network

Small Business Online Community

CT Small Business Toolkit

Marketing & Communication Network

Ryan Pirkle

“Great article, Janil! I think you have a thoughtful list, to which I would add one additional tip:
Tell the story of the people who make up your brand.
By telling the stories of the passion, creativity, dedication, and/or commitment of the very people who essentially are the brand, you are humanizing your company and better resonating with the audience. People will always better connect to other people than brand assets.”

Doshie Witcher

“I think storytelling has become an important part of defining my personal brand. It has helped my customers to connect with me on a more personal level. It is important to me that they know that what I do is about more than just the financial aspect of it, it’s about my passion for what I do.”

George Mentis

“You know Jean, I recall being in marketing class in university and the professor asking the class if we knew a story that was communicated in an ad, that was running nationally on television at the time. Yes, we all replied enthusiastically, we did! After all it was a very interesting story, quite compelling and with good word of mouth.

And then the bomb dropped: he asked how many of us in the 70-student class recalled the brand that was being advertised. Can you guess how many did? None. Zero. Nada. No one could even recall the product or service being advertised!

I appreciate your article, good job bringing focus on this topic. But let us always remember not to get lost in our story, always keeping in mind that the actual message is king. And that is dictated by your brand’s positioning in the marketplace.”

Have you got more tips on storytelling? Tell us your ideas and experience in the comment box below.

Janil Jean


Janil Jean is an idealist blogger and social media addict who loves conversations related to branding, storytelling, startups and small business technology and design.

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