Compelling Storytelling Sells Brands

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The art of storytelling is more important than ever, as evidenced by the Content Marketing Institute’s benchmark research for 2018, which predicts 91 percent of business-to-business and 86 percent of business-to-consumer marketers plan to use content marketing in their campaigns.

The digital world is up close and personal. Attention spans are shorter than ever, and time is precious. Perhaps Seth Godin said it best, “Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make but the stories that you tell.”

Consumers are hungry for stories. They want to get to know you, connect and feel a kinship. They want…gulp…a relationship.

Brands that do the best jobs at marketing and advertising are telling great stories on multiple channels. According to research conducted by the Advertising Research Foundation, “likeability” is the measure most predictive of whether an advertisement will increase a brand’s sales.

How do brands make people like them? Your story has to have a few universal components to win customers. It has to be simple, true, relatable and appealing to the emotions.

Few brands are better than Nike at relatable, emotional storytelling. Rather than give their audience fact after fact about their products, they let their audience see their brand in action with people—famous and not—winning and wearing Nike products. Since the days of the Michael Jordan ads and the famous “Just Do It” tagline, Nike has consistently shown us likeability equals appealing to emotions with stories.

Another brand killing it with simple and appealing story ads is insurance company Allstate. Their mayhem spots have a great anti-hero character who embodies the disastrous results of poor planning or poor decisions. It’s a great example of targeting the audience you want and directing an ongoing story that will pique interest in your brand.

In 2006, TOMS shoe founder, Blake Mycoskie, was traveling in Argentina. When he saw local children growing up without shoes, his entrepreneurial spark and humanitarian spirit joined forces. He wanted to do good and make a profit. The story is a simple one. It has a simple title: One for One. For every pair of shoes sold, TOMS donates a free pair to a child in need. That’s how the company began, and 60 million pairs of free shoes later, TOMS is enjoying a philanthropic and profitable brand built around a story that consumers connected with.

Your brand isn’t simply a vehicle for a commodity. Engaging people goes far beyond price and product. What’s your story? Why should people care about what you do or sell? The brands that win are the ones that take the time to explore who they are and what they hope to accomplish. They then make those authentic facts into stories that people will relate to, believe in and enjoy. In brand storytelling, once people like you, sales follow.

Tricia Warren is the Marketing Strategist at RedRover Sales & Marketing Strategy. She can be reached at