3 Keys To Mastering Storytelling In Marketing Communications

storytelling in marketing communications

3 keys to mastering storytelling in marketing communications

Tell a good story—one that somehow defines your values—the essence of who you are, and why others should care—and you’ll capture the hearts and loyalty of customers or clients looking for a…

 Positive Brand Experience

1: Connect, with authenticity

Your story and how you share it should be relatable to your customers in compelling ways that motivate, educate and inspire.

“By crafting a narrative that genuinely engages your company’s values and by foregrounding a journey that is about experience over product or service, small businesses can establish a greater marketplace presence and build consumer engagement.”

How Square made the connection

Square, a San Francisco-based tech company, helps small businesses manage their financial transactions using mobile devices.

  • Its solution: Focus on its customer experiences rather than its innovative line of devices and related services.
  • The result: “For Every Kind of Dream,” a series of inspiring short videos of real customers, bringing to life the faces of customer innovation and perseverance.
  • Square transforms: These stories inspired real customers to chase “extraordinary dreams.” 

2: Move, with transformative power

Propel your story forward with a plot that takes customers on a journey—of discovery, nostalgia, suspense.

“At its heart, a story is about a person dealing with tension, and tension is created by unfulfilled desire. Without forces of antagonism, without setbacks, without a crisis event that initiates the action, you have no story.”

  • Novelist Steven James, in Writer’s Digest magazine

How Apple moved—and transformed:

It wasn’t enough for tech giant Apple to tell its customers how awesome its latest iPhones were when it came to photo and video quality.

  • Its solution: Commissioned a short film by Academy Award-winning director Michel Gondry—made entirely by iPhones but without mentioning them.
  • The result: “Detour,” a heart-warming story of a family’s trip to the beach, with a prized tricycle that falls from the back of the family’s car. Eventually, the tricycle finds its way. 
  • Apple transforms: Clever story line, emotion—and film quality—all served to transform the expectations of Apple’s most creative customers about what an iPhone is capable of.

3: Transcend, with a hero

Good stories have heroes that set higher standards. Make your hero credible, inspiring. Don’t make your brand the hero. 

“People need heroes because heroes save or improve lives and because heroes are inspiring. Heroes elevate us emotionally; they heal our psychological ills; they build connections between people; they encourage us to transform ourselves for the better; and they call us to become heroes and help others.”

  • Scott T. Allison, Ph.D., in a Why We Need Heroes blog in Psychology Today titled “5 Surprising Ways that Heroes Improve Lives”

How Wheaties built a hero legacy:

Long before digital marketing turned storytelling marketing into multi-media art, General Mills built the success of its Wheaties cereal around the stories of champion athletes.

  • Its solution: Debuted its “Breakfast of Champions” campaign in 1933, with real (and fictitious) champions—only 12 years after the cereal was invented.
  • The result: The legacy continues today. In 2021, Wheaties introduced the “100 Years of Wheaties/Celebrate Champions” campaign, bringing back its most iconic champions.

Wheaties transforms:  Boxing champ Mohammad Ali said it best: “Champions aren’t made in gyms. Champions are made from something deep inside—a desire, a dream and a vision.”