Storytelling in Marketing

Storytelling in Marketing – How to Utilize It in Your Brand

By: Frank DePino | March 15, 2023

Storytelling marketing is one of the most successful aspects of marketing overall, and when you consider the fact that humans have been telling stories since the dawn of time, it makes sense!

Storytelling marketing is a unique form of  marketing in which a brand communicates a carefully developed message, such as a launch story or product narrative, to its audience via narrative and fact. Many organizations develop cohesive narratives to weave together the facts and emotions that evoke feelings in potential consumers.

Storytelling marketing can be an incredibly valuable tool for your brand, which was why we have compiled an in-depth guide to help you understand how you can weave together rich and inspiring tales to drive the emotions of your audience.

What is Storytelling in Marketing?

Storytelling and marketing is essentially the act of using a story to communicate a message, as opposed to your typical sales jargon. The goal with this type of marketing is to make the recipient feel something that will eventually motivate them to take action.

Your consumers want to know why they should care about your product or service so much, and coming up with a story to provide that answer humanizes your brand.

Why is Storytelling Important in Marketing

For starters, there are a variety of ways to tell stories, including verbal, written, and visual media. From billboards to social media, you can tell stories across every marketing channel. The beauty of storytelling marketing is that it helps marketers cut through marketplace noise, which is mainly filled with distracting advertising.

Secondly, storytelling helps marketers develop deeper connections with their audience. Nothing can unite and inspire people quite like a good story. For example, let’s think about the Purina commercial for a minute, which communicates the love and fondness we have for our furry friends through a recognizable story. Whether the story is about a man and his two dogs on a road trip or a woman and her cat playing in the garden doesn’t make a difference.

The idea is that Purina is able to communicate the message of the brand through a story, therefore elevating the meaning of the brand and showing customers how their products can fit into their lives.

Lastly, stories bring us together. In many ways, stories are a universal language. Every person processes emotions, whether hope, elation, anger, or despair. Sharing a great story can provide people with a sense of community, no matter how vastly different they are.

One of the best examples of this is TOMS. The shoe brand shares stories of its customers and the folks they help out using money from customer purchases, creating a community and a movement with people across the world.

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Content Marketing vs. Storytelling

Content marketing is a tool used to nudge consumers into altering their behaviors, instead of trying to hard-sell a product. Brand storytelling, on the other hand, is exactly what it sounds like — telling a story that may, but not necessarily, involve the advertised product.

You can think of content marketing as a tool under the umbrella of brand storytelling, as brands will often use storytelling in content marketing to better engage their audiences. It aims to help brands become authoritative voices in there specific industries, building trusting relationships with consumers.

Some examples of content marketing include:

  • Blogs, articles, and ebooks discussing relevant industry topics
  • Videos, images, memes, and GIFs for social media platforms
  • White papers, which are in depth and authoritative reports on relevant industry problems
  • Webinars
  • Infographic content

Brands will use content marketing strategies to craft content surrounding topics that they believe their target audience will engage with.

6 Types of Stories Used In Marketing

When it comes to storytelling marketing, there are many ways to develop stories you can tell. Let’s look at a list of some of the best and most common types of stories used in marketing to get your creative juices flowing.

Brand Stories

The brand talks about the history of your brand and why you came to fruition in the first place. This type of story can showcase the journey of the founder, explain the evolution of the brand, share the values of your company, talk about your brand mission, or spotlight the important people in your brand’s organization.

Ferrari shows the story of its brand through an interactive page to boost he engagement with its

Product Stories

Many people want to know about the stories behind the products and services that brands offer, which is especially important if you’re charging a premium for your offerings.

For example, if you are a luxury brand, your product story is everything. It’s the only reason why a consumer would spend $80 on a shirt rather than going down to the local thrift store and buying a similar shirt for five dollars.

The product story can tell customers where you source or materials, how your products solve common needs, why you decided to create a product in the first place, or how your product created a successful outcome.

Customer Stories

One of the most relatable types of stories in storytelling marketing for consumers is the customer story. Consumers want to know how your products or services are used by others.

Customer stories can include showcasing how a customer found success in using your product or service, talking about how your product or service helped a customer who was down on their luck, or spotlighting the winner of a recent contest you ran.

Community Stories

When it comes to cluttered marketplaces, the brands that truly stand out are the ones that invest in their communities. Everyone wants to be a part of a community, especially one in which they feel does good for its people. If you have a brand that is deeply rooted in a specific community, tell a story about it.

Community stories can include times you donated to specific charities, spotlights of community members who gave back to their communities, or a timeline detailing the history between the community and your brand.

Friends sharing an educational story at the coffee shop during the break lunch.

Educational Stories

Storytelling can be an incredibly effective learning strategy, as it allows people to paint pictures in their heads, creating realities that reinforce meanings. Plus, educational stories can deliver value to your target audience.

You might tell a topic story, in which you teach your audience about a particular topic while shrouding the facts in an inspiring story, or an expert story, in which you interview authorities on relevant topics and gear the conversation toward addressing the needs of your audience.

Industry Stories

The last type of storytelling marketing comes through industry stories.

Is there a unique spot in which the company fits in the larger industry?

What makes you unique compared to similar companies in your industry?

Are there ways in which your brand is pushing the industry forward?

Industry stories can romanticize your industry’s history, tell the story of how your company came to be in the realm of your industry, discuss past problems and future solutions in your industry, or share stories regarding your industry’s technological advancements.

Microsoft has many great examples of industry storytelling related to advancements in technology.

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How to Use Storytelling in Marketing

Storytelling in digital marketing can elevate your campaigns when used properly, but understanding how to implement it can be challenging. Let’s look at a few ways you can integrate storytelling marketing into your brand’s overarching marketing plan.

Create a Brand Story

Your first plan of action should be to create a brand story, in which you tell the story of your brand and how you came to be.

Within this brand story, you can discuss the mission of your brand, share the values that your brand stands for, and give a detailed timeline of your brand’s evolution.

Data-Driven Storytelling

Data-driven storytelling turns raw data into engaging stories that are more digestible, making complex data easy to understand. This structured approach to data communication uses tools like infographics and visualizations to show why specific data is so important to consumers or people in the industry.

Visual Storytelling

A picture is worth a thousand words, and nowhere is that cliche more true than in marketing. According to the experts at Forrester Research, even a minute-long video is worth 1.8 million words.

When it comes to visual storytelling or visual marketing, you use visual content to communicate your brand’s narrative. This could be anything from a social media post to a video to an infographic. A story can also be achieved through several complementary content pieces that are connected with one another.

Storytelling in Email Marketing Campaigns

Storytelling in email marketing is an alternative to your conventional or ordinary punch lines found in most email campaigns.

There are many ways to deliver an email marketing story, such as in a single, long email, or as a drip campaign, dealing the story out chapter by chapter, as an author would with a novel. Not only is this style of storytelling marketing a great way to freshen up your emails, but it also improves the way in which readers perceive your message.

Storytelling in Advertising

The best advertisements evoke emotion and connect consumers with brands. Storytelling in this regard can be inspiring, clever, funny, heart-warming, or heartbreaking. The focus is to tell a story that people feel pleasure in hearing again and again, leaving potential customers feeling inspired or nostalgic for your products or services.

Leverage Emotional Storytelling Marketing

Decisions about what consumers purchase are often based on emotional impulse, so one of the main things we want to focus on when targeting customers with advertising is whether or not we are inspiring or satisfying them emotionally.

There are hundreds of emotional triggers you can consider using when integrating storytelling in digital marketing, but make sure it is clearly defined and that you find the right way to communicate it best.

Craft a Good Story

While there is no objective group of elements that make a good story, there are a few components that we believe are non-negotiable when crafting a story audiences will latch on to:

  • Memorable:  a good story must stick with the recipient, whether humorous, scandalous, or inspirational.
  • Relatable: A good story will feel relevant to people, and they’ll be able to recognize similarities to your story in the world around them.
  • Educational: A good story provides knowledge and sparks curiosity.
  • Organized: A good story must convey a message in a succinct and organized manner.
  • Believable: A good story is convincing enough to feel like reality, making it easier to trust or engage with a brand.
  • Entertaining: Most importantly, a good story must keep the recipients engaged, waiting for the next ‘chapter.’

Check out our guide on storytelling for hotels.

The marketing team is studying some storytelling examples to take inspiration for its next campaign.

Storytelling Marketing Examples

Apple Example

Apple regularly employs storytelling marketing in their brand, and the “Share Your Gifts” holiday advertisement was one of the best examples of it.

The ad revolves around a young artists living in a colorful local town, locking away here artwork in a small box until it progressively fills to the top, so much so that it’s about to burst. Eventually, her furry friend opens her bedroom window, letting her art blow outside and down to the town below.

The townspeople are then seen admiring her art, giving her a heartwarming instance of validation, which we can all relate to.

This gleeful ode to connection and creativity is very resonant, an idea that Apple has used for decades.

“Like Mike” Gatorade Commercial

The “Like Mike” Gatorade commercial is a classic example of storytelling marketing, using visual storytelling to touch on the community. You don’t hear the classic commercial voice-over, but instead, a catchy song with a children’s choir backing it up.

Throughout the commercial, we see iconic basketball star, Michael Jordan, scoring baskets out on the court, interspersed with videos of him hanging out with friends and kids.

The subtle hint in the commercial is that Gatorade is the drink choice of Michael Jordan, and anyone who wants to be “Like Mike” should also drink Gatorade.

Guinness “Made of More”

The Guinness “Made of More” ad from 2011 shows the Irish fighting off what is believed to be the Romans in ancient times. The commercial was meant to motivate viewers to drink Guinness while watching the Rugby World Cup, though it is just as relevant in discussing the rich history that Guinness has in Ireland, and how it has fought through the battlefield of the beer industry since the 18th century to remain one of the world’s most iconic Irish beers.

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Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are several different ways to integrate storytelling into your brand’s marketing strategy. The sky is the limit.

If you need help developing an engaging story for your brand, get in touch with us at Media Boom today. We’ve helped hundreds of brands develop unique stories and growth strategies to raise awareness and accumulate more customers.

By: Frank DePino

Frank DePino is Principal and Founder of Mediaboom. Since 2002, Frank has led Mediaboom’s award-winning staff of creative and technical professionals, building the most effective marketing and advertising solutions for its clients.


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