Brandtalk banner 2018.05.jpg

A Short Story About Stories And Storytellers

We’ve touched on this in the past but perhaps it needs to be put more bluntly. Effective marketing is best done through a story. But the brand is not the story. The brand is the storyteller. A marketer can engage a market by capturing its attention with a riveting story. That story can demonstrate one or more benefits of a product or service. Because it puts the benefits in the context of a narrative, it can be much more memorable and convincing than if those same benefits were just listed out. The brand needs to be seen as the originator of the story, as the persona that can be trusted to entertain, to educate, to advise and, most of all, to be truthful.

Think of three brands that you love. It may help to actually write down their names. Then put them aside. Next time you’re out and about, mark how you feel when you encounter one of their logos. You’re likely to feel a kind of warmth and safety, very akin to the way you feel when you unexpectedly encounter an old friend. If you run the same experiment with three brands that you hate, you’ll feel distrust and wariness, just as if you’ve run into someone who has, in the past, left a bad impression on you.

Obviously, owner’s and managers of brands want to generate trust and love, not mistrust  and hatred. That comes from telling stories that entertain and reveal truths that everyone can acknowledge. But, perhaps even more importantly, it comes from the way the storyteller behaves. 

Budweiser is a beer that is famous for the stories it tells. Usually they feature sizable dray horses and/or adorable Golden Retrievers, often as young foals or puppies. The stories are dastardly effective in triggering the audience’s emotions with tales that promote family, brotherhood and togetherness. Or maybe they just dial the cute up to eleven. Whatever it is, they are tremendously successful in establishing Budweiser as a brand that has its heart in the right place. Even if you don’t like the beer, you’re at least OK with the brand.

The brand managers at Budweiser know that the millions they’ve spent creating this warm and fuzzy image would all be wasted if the company started engaging in evil business practices. Should Budweiser collude with local public officials to raze a politically weak neighborhood for its next brewery, its brand would be destroyed overnight. The cute stories they’ve been telling, even if fictional, would all suddenly seem inauthentic, lies told to lure the rubes into buying beer.

So again, marketing is storytelling. Brands tell stories. Storytellers need to be seen as trusted, authentic and truthful, even if the stories are fictional. So marketers have to make sure senior management always does the right thing.


The Long-Term Effect of the Pandemic’s Upheaval on Values, Communication, and Branding
Marketing messages need to change because the pandemic has changed the market.

Ad of the Day: Ikea bottles Ronaldo’s anti-Coca-Cola stance
The folks at Ikea can teach us all something about moving fast.

Without Purpose, You’re Hurting Your Product, Your Brand, and Yourself
Why do you exist – beyond making money?

Creating A Niche Famous Brand
Particularly useful in the B2B world.

Pentagram rebrands voting for the 21st century
Attempting to engage and excite voters in an unbiased way.

Appreciating Woody Pirtle
Always one of my favorite designers

Find Some Space, Free Your Mind – An Introduction to Creative Wellness
Or you could take an hour everyday to do nothing. Just sit and think about things.

Sign up – Brandtalk

Best Branding Reads
Week of September 13, 2021

As The Pandemic Recedes, Millions Of Workers Are Saying 'I Quit’
To misquote the song, “Take this job and shove it. It means nothing to me now.”

3 reasons you’re losing the war for talent (and how to fix it fast)
Give employees at least as much respect as you give customers. They’re both invaluable to a business.

When Brands Should Shut Up – A Study on Brand Activism
If you can’t stand the heat, don’t set the house on fire.

3 Ways Online Brands are Building Better Customer Relationships than Brick and Mortar
With all the advantages traditional retail has to deliver that personal touch, why does it so often fail to do so?

Top Brand Intimacy COVID Rankings
Where would your business fall on this list?

The Case for Bold Brand
By any other name, a rose may indeed smell sweeter.

Why Digital Experience Needs to Go Beyond Data and Champion Creativity
To engage audiences, factor in an unmeasurable ingredient – creativity.