Brand Storytelling

Alex Haddon | 24 April 2018

Creating compelling marketing messages through storytelling is a proven route to brand building. In this post, we attempt to demystify the process and help you identify what level of storytelling you are currently engaged in.

All brands want to to tell better stories to strengthen their brand positioning and connect on a more personal level. Building brand loyalty is great as it not only secures future business with loyal customers but is also essential for endorsements and referrals.

There are many different ways that brand storytelling can be executed but what is critical in all situations is a clear understanding of what your audience cares about. Without this knowledge, you just won't deliver a message that has any real meaning and it won't shift the perception of your brand to a new and improved level. It can be a really good idea to split up your audience into sub-groups and deliver targeted storytelling for maximum impact.

To help you think about what kind of stories you are currently telling and figuring out if you can do better, I have grouped storytelling techniques into three categories;

1. Basic Storytelling

Every business is most likely engaged in at least a basic level of storytelling. This level includes anything that is not features-focussed information, for example:

  • Team profiles with some personal information and background
  • Case studies that focus on the transformation
  • Company history and values.

2. Advanced Storytelling

In this category we see more complex stories that are often more benefits focused. Think about creating educational and insightful messages that make your audience think through something for a moment or to make them feel good about the relationship they could have with your brand. Advanced storytelling can also be in carefully crafted customer stories, putting them in the limelight like this case study by Indeed and their client Sage:

3. Expert Storytelling

The expert storytellers in marketing are often large organisations with generous marketing budgets to support long-term brand building. These stories are entirely focussed on what matters to the audience and leisurely takes them on a journey to another place and often only makes a quick reference to the brand at the end. The key here is to think differently and creatively – to be generous and entertaining.

Well-known expert storytelling brands include John Lewis and Guinness but there are also some excellent examples of really sophisticated storytelling in B2B marketing and includes the rather chilling film The Wolf  for HP Printers starring Christian Slater:

To take control of your brand storytelling, start with a story audit to see what you do have in your 'story library'. You can then create a plan to grow this and over time, build up more interesting and complex stories. Consider having an ongoing theme to keep a continuous thread that links back to your brand.