Storytelling 101: How To Tell Better (Brand) Stories

Storytelling 101: How To Tell Better (Brand) Stories

Big Ideas

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May 7 2021
Big Ideas
Author: Glenn Cressman & Aislynn Palmer
As a marketer, you are probably familiar with the concept of storytelling and the role it plays in brand building. As the ultimate storytellers at Hubspot put it, "storytelling has become a crucial component of the most successful marketing campaigns. It sets apart vibrant brands from simple businesses and loyal consumers from one-time, stop-in shoppers. "  Compelling stories and memorable brand experiences not only create customer loyalty; they also make emotional connections with consumers in a time where the ‘experience economy’ is the driving force in commerce. The challenge becomes how to tell good stories.  Unfortunately, here is no magic formula to telling great stories; no step-by-step guides or seminar series exist because there are no right (or wrong) ways to tell a story. There are, however, methods you can adopt to significantly improve your storytelling abilities. 

Ways to Improve your Storytelling: 

Have your audience in mind

Before you start typing away, it's important to nail down who your story is for. As you would do with any marketing campaign, start with some initial research on your target audience and flush out your buyer personas. Put yourself in their shoes. What do they care about? Why are they consuming this content? How do they prefer to consume this content? It's important to get a good grasp on these elements, so that you can relate your story back to them. It will also help to guide your direction as you begin to flush out your story.   

Find your angle 

Every great story has unique angle. However, finding that angle can take a bit of work. Try utilizing BetterMarketing's 1-2-3 method:  
1) choose your overall topic or theme; then  
2) deconstruct your overall theme by breaking it into key sub-topics; and lastly  
3) niche down your subtopics to a specific and more unique angle.  

Ex: If you're creating a story around your brands history, ask yourself the following questions:  
How was your business founded? 
Who are your "main characters"?   
What were some of the monumental events along the way?   
How was your company name chosen?   
How was your brand’s colour palette selected?  
Ultimately, you always want to start with the big picture in mind whilst crafting your unique story.  

Provoke an emotional reaction

Everyone knows that a great story invokes intense emotion from the audience – whether that's excitement, frustration, or suspense. Whatever it is that you’d like to get across to your audience, it needs to provoke an emotional reaction. Why? The emotions we feel help us connect to the story and prompt us to take action. Analyze the "hooks” in your story – do they have an emotional component? Try to find the “heroes” in the story and create an engaging story, even if you have a “boring” service or product. 

Don't shy away from conflict 

Many brands tend to shy away from sharing their challenges or conflicts, in fear of losing their credibility or reputation as an industry leader. This couldn't be further from the truth – in fact, every good story revolves around conflict. Embracing conflict is what makes a story compelling and can even help define who they are. Many individuals find brands that express their challenges to be more relatable. If framed in a strategic way, conflict can bring a light to deeper consumer insights and cultural truths, while sparking your audience’s curiosity and imagination. 

Bring your story to life: make it multi-sensory 

Adding a variety of elements to your story helps to distinguish your brand in consumers' mind and overall make your brand more recognizable. Science also shows us that people remember multisensory experiences better.  

Case in point: Ferrari. 
Source: @ferrari on Instagram 

Ferrari recently launched a campaign making the connections between all the variations of their classic ‘rosso’ (Italian word for ‘red’) and the inspiration for each.  In the example above, the hue ‘Rosso Mugello’ was inspired by the Mugello racing circuit in Tuscany, Italy.  Now, we’re not entirely sure what the exact connection is; and really it doesn't matter to us as the reader. We are simply compelled by the journey that Ferrari takes us on.  It fuels the mystique of the brand (pun intended) and pays tribute to its racing history. 

Emphasize your unique solution 

Marketers often make the mistake of focusing too much on the rhetorical "features and benefits” of their brand. It's crucial for marketers to tap into a customer service mindset and come up with better ways to convey the actual challenges that your customers are facing through storytelling. Focus on how your brand can actually solve your customers’ unique problems.


Key Points to Great Storytelling 

  1. Have your audience in mind. 
  2. Find your angle. 
  3. Provoke an emotional reaction. 
  4. Don't shy away from conflict. 
  5. Bring your story to life: make it multi-sensory. 
  6. Emphasize your unique solution. 

Ultimately, true storytelling comes from the heart (of your business) and the inspiration for those stories can come from anywhere.  The more unique and authentic the stories are, the more likely they are to strike a chord with the audience and establish that emotional bond. Be genuine, explore your history, and tell your unique story.   

Editor’s note: Sherpa Marketing’s Paid Advertising Specialist, Natalia Ferrari, is (unfortunately) not a descendant of Enzo Ferrari and does not bring with her a “friends-and-family discount”.  She is, however, exceptional at digital marketing. 

Here at Sherpa we combine our love for great storytelling with great design and back it up with data and analytics. Schedule a call to brainstorm ideas on how to create engaging and interesting stories for your brand and organization.



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