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What is Brand Storytelling?

Brandee Johnson

In our modern world, a business without a compelling brand is at a real disadvantage. Individuals and companies alike have a huge variety of choice at their fingertips, and can make snap judgements about a brand knowing they’ll be able to find other businesses doing similar things if necessary. Enter brand storytelling – a very human way to connect and engage with your audience.


About brand storytelling

Brand storytelling is essentially a narrative that combines details about your brand and your products or services while evoking emotion in your audience. It is about using authentic, honest stories that connect and resonate with your audience with the aim of both driving growth and increasing loyalty.

Storytelling works because we as humans are genetically programmed to respond to stories. We respond differently when we listen to a story than when we just hear information. We can sit in a lecture hall and understand a boring presentation, but we don’t respond to it in the same way as being told a story. It’s been scientifically proven that reading fiction can trigger a biological response, shaping our thinking and way of life, and it’s possible to translate that into brand storytelling, too.

Writing for Harvard Business Review, Paul J. Zak, the founding director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies in Claremont, CA, says, “My experiments show that character-driven stories with emotional content result in a better understanding of the key points a speaker wishes to make and enable better recall of these points weeks later.” Taking that into a business context, creating a story that speaks to your audience on a human level will make them more connected to your brand and leave a positive impression.


Why brand storytelling is important

Digitalization and automation have changed our society in ways we couldn’t have imagined 20 years ago, and most brands have embraced this change. But we’ve now entered a time when it almost feels like they’ve gone too far, and people need brands to show their human side rather than being faceless entities. As consumers, we are driving the growth of brand storytelling with our desire for high-quality, relevant, and entertaining content.

There are stats to support this, too.

To survive, businesses now need to connect with audiences, pull at their heartstrings, and engage with them on a much deeper level than ever before. But brand storytelling must still contend with lingering notions of businesslike behavior, left embedded in our collective subconscious after years of being required to come across as stoic because it equalled professionalism.

Moving past that needn’t be hard though. It’s a matter of expressing your brand transparently and honestly, and using that expression to tell brand stories that will win people over and show them exactly why you deserve their interest, support, and custom. Of course, it’s not just about telling a nice story – it needs to be balanced with the right level of commercialism too.


Brand storytelling is a great way to get your point of across, differentiate your brand, and work out new ideas. Today, if you want to succeed as an entrepreneur or leader, you also have to be a storyteller.”  – Richard Branson


What storytelling can do for your brand

  • Differentiate you from your competitorsbrand storytelling can help you rise above the noise
  • Build a community – turn your customers into advocates by creating a connection and a meaning with them. A story can create a deep emotional engagement and trigger your customers into talking about you and to you
  • Increase profit by showing your brand’s human side – increasingly, we want companies to be transparent about how they achieve results that are more than simply profit. If we know you support a cause and want to make a real impact, we will be more invested in your brand and buy more from you


What to consider when telling a brand story

  • Start with the why – this can be difficult to articulate so it’s where visual storytelling can be really helpful
  • Give your story a human element that your audience can connect to – make it meaningful, personal, emotional, simple, and authentic
  • Be consistent across all your channels
  • Balance the story that will appeal to your audience with your business objectives, such as increasing brand awareness or generating leads
  • Try new channels such as augmented reality and virtual reality – 75% of Forbes’ Most Valuable Brands are already using VR to tell stories


3 examples of great brand storytelling

There are a lot of brands out there telling great stories – making us want to buy into them, showing their personality, and making us feel something.

  1. Mouth: Mouth foods sell artisan-made food from around the country as one-off gifts or monthly subscriptions. A large part of their strategy is telling the stories behind each of the food and beverage makers they partner with – all small business owners.
  2. Jack Daniel’s: Jack Daniel’s uses its heritage to create stories that are rich in reminiscence and vintage values, and its campaign to drive user-generated content shows just how much its consumers engage with the brand.
  3. Nike: Nike is the master of brand storytelling, using its power to inspire their audience to dream big. Just watch their first ever ad – and just do it.

Brand storytelling isn’t just a nice-to-have. It will drive brand awareness, increase profit, and make you memorable.


Make sure your business stands out – contact us to chat about brand development


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