Storytelling Marketing: Why Stories Are Essential To Your Marketing Strategy

Think back to when you were a child, when you’d ask your parents to read you a bedtime story. There really was no better way to fall asleep, with your brain still buzzing with tales of characters from far away lands. Storytelling is an essential part of who we are as human beings. Stories help us define who we are as people, they shape and continue our culture, they are an integral part of the human experience. On a primal level, we crave storytelling. Even with the advent of the internet, that hasn’t changed. In fact, if you look at viral content, it’s those that tap into the elements of storytelling, those that play on our emotions, that we are most likely to share with our friends.

With so many digital tools at our fingertips, it’s never been easier to tell and disseminate stories. According to Fast Company, we spend about a third of our lives daydreaming. However, we’re busier and more distracted than ever before. But occasionally a good story really does cut through all that noise. So isn’t it time you asked yourself, what’s my story? And how should I be telling it?

Which brands are nailing storytelling marketing?

Coca Cola are masters of storytelling. They aren’t selling soft drinks, they are selling happiness. And their ad campaigns often shine a light onto real life stories that are aligned with their brand values. Just look at this example and tell me you wouldn’t want to click share:

John Lewis’ christmas commercials are so touching, so infused with warm, fuzzy feelings that they have become synonymous with the UK festive season. In fact, the launch of the ad becomes an event in itself, and each year they continue to up the game. This one bought many a tear to our eye – not only did they manage to slip in a subtle nod to gift giving, but they shone a light on a very important issue, taking care of our elderly.

Innocent’s approach to content marketing is clever, authentic and fun. Their brand story is witty and honest. They’re not afraid to look stupid, because we all know that deep down, it’s all part of a much smarter strategy. Innocent is one brand that has such a strong personality that it indeed feels like a person. Not easy to do! Here’s a recent example which shows their willingness to look a little on the foolish side:

Of course, not all of us have the big budgets that these brands do. But you don’t necessarily need to have mass market appeal or total virality with your brand story. It’s all about working out who you want to reach, and then ensuring that you speak to them in a way that will grab their attention, and hopefully pull on their heart strings (or tickle their funny bones) a little.

Need help telling your brand story? With qualifications in creative writing and poetry, we’re expert storytellers and we’d love to help!

Does your story pass the TRUTH test?

James Lush from Lush Digital has developed what he calls the ‘TRUTH test’, which is a framework to help you get the best results from telling your brand story.

Topical: is now a good time to tell your story? Are people searching for this type of content at the moment? Does it tie in with current events or trends?

Relevance: Does your story speak to the audience you’re trying to target? Will they care about what you’re trying to say?

Unusual: Your story should stand out by being different. Does it contain facts that are surprising or not widely known? Will it educate or surprise your target audience in some way?

Trouble: Does your story contain some sort of conflict? This is what makes a story interesting to read. It’s good if you can identify a problem and then provide the solution.

Human: Ultimately, people don’t connect with brands, they connect with people. Who are the characters in your story? Will your target audience empathise with them? Do the people in your story feel authentic?


Christian Taylor is a writer and digital marketer and a member of the VKN Digital team. VKN Digital is a digital marketing agency in Hertfordshire, UK. We aim to help SMEs overcome marketing hurdles and create compelling digital content that drives results. Need help creating and launching a native advertising campaign? How about assistance with SEO or social media? Please contact us for a free Skype consultation.

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