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Benefits of Storytelling in Marketing



Benefits of Storytelling in Marketing

By Kenneth Horsfall

Why brands should aim to tell a story, to live a purpose (and not just sell products)

Storytelling enables marketers to develop a deeper connection with the audience. Storytelling is a fundamental human experience that unites people and drives stronger and deeper connections.

From the earliest recorded history, storytelling was a method used by cavemen to communicate, educate, share, and connect. As an example, think about Suburu’s ads which communicate “love” through a series of ads that establishes the car brand as a symbol of caring for those you love. Whether it’s a father caring for his son or daughter, or a parent caring for their beloved pet, the series of ads are more about what the brand represents to the family than the horsepower that the car delivers. By communicating the brand through stories, Suburu is able to elevate the meaning of the brand and better crystalize how it fits into customers’ lives.

Not just that, storytelling is a powerful method for learning. As marketers, we should always be seeking to learn more about the world we live in, the brands that we represent, and the consumers that we serve.

One of the things that is unique about stories is that they transmit knowledge and meaning. We learn from observations, and first-hand experiences, and by sharing those experiences through stories. Storytelling can be a powerful tool that enables marketers to understand what is going on in the marketplace and what that means for the customer, consumer, society, brand, and company.

In addition to being an important strategic tool, storytelling can be an important tactical tool that lets marketers engage consumers in a fragmented media world. Because there is such media fragmentation, consumers are not just looking for different experiences but different delivery. Why should a consumer give you, their time? Storytelling isn’t just a creative approach to marketing. It gives your consumers a totally different entry into your brand.

Now, understanding the importance of storytelling, what makes an engaging story? How do marketers create a desired feeling and experience for their consumers to help drive brand connection?

Matthew Luhn, story consultant and animator, known for his work in Pixar movies such as Toy Story, Ratatouille and Inside Out, shares five core elements he believes all great stories should possess:

  •     Hook
  •     Character transformation
  •     Connection with the audience
  •     Authenticity
  •     Structure


The hook relates to the story’s core theme. In essence, what is it that’s going to draw people in and make them compelled to see what is about to unfold? Luhn explains it usually needs to be something unusual or unexpected as to immediately grab the audience’s attention.

Character transformation:

Once you have captured the attention of the audience, it is important to take them on a journey. Stories inspire transformation. People tend to live vicariously through characters. It is therefore essential to question; what is the message we are hoping to convey and how will this advertisement effect a change in the consumer?

Connection with the audience:

A story may be expertly crafted in hook and transformation, but if you don’t truly understand the audience you are trying to appeal to, it is likely to become lost or ignored. It’s not simply a case of knowing demographics either, a strong comprehension of things like audience values and motivators is critical for connection.


Authenticity is perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of storytelling in marketing, Consumers are often wary that they are being advertised to, it is therefore important to communicate something that comes from a piece of truth, based on enduring insight, rather than something that feels manufactured.


Finally, how the story is told is critical for its success. Simply put, structures that comprise a set-up, conflict and pay-off are believed to be most effective in storytelling.

Here’s some examples of brands using storytelling to great effect

Final Thoughts

Brand storytelling is the key to leaving a lasting impression on your audience. A good story can captivate a listener in ways that no facts or data ever could.

Reassess your current marketing strategy and ask yourself where you could incorporate more stories into each campaign. If you need inspiration, just turn to your team or customers for entertaining stories.

Benefits of Storytelling in Marketing first appears on Business Post

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