Uncovering The Truth of Storytelling


Some of you know that I am a huge photography enthusiast and can often be found wandering around the forest with my camera getting covered in mud trying to find the best angle that will create a breathtaking photo. What you didn’t know is that it takes me dozens if not hundreds of attempts to find the one image that has something special. So what does this have to do with marketing? Everything!

Just like photography, successful marketing campaigns and ads do not happen without trial and error. Revisions are made and an idea is continually refined. Yes, you may stumble onto an idea that works beautifully, just like I do with a photo, but this is often not the case.

How often are you bombarded by marketing schemes, ads, click bait and pushy sales tactics? (And if you answer anything other than – tons – I want to know where you have been and please send me the location details.)  It does not matter where you are or what you are doing – marketing tactics are present. This generates a huge amount of ‘noise’ that blocks the message we as marketers are trying to convey to our consumers. Its rather like climbing uphill when the path is covered in oil. Marketing can be and continues to be a slippery slope to climb.

Take a moment to consider what makes some brands wildly successful. Everything they do has a purpose and shares a story. Every story has a purpose and a structure.

For example, Lego’s #KeepBuilding campaign focused on the journey of a child though discovery and how when we teach our children to think - they are able to overcome countless obstacles.


Or Budweiser's #BestBuds campaign sharing the connection between two friends.


Here is an example for a storytelling fail. When you do not understand your customer you run the risk of generating content that creates a negative association with your brand. For example, Bloomingdales released a holiday add that sends the message that they support rape culture. This resulted in the organization issuing a public apology and facing a rather embarrassing situation. If your interested in more details about this story check it out - here.

Huge brands are able to connect with their customers on many different levels and sometimes we see campaigns that resonate deeply within us. Brands are able to connect with us on an emotional level and share a story. Let me draw your attention to the key word here – SHARE. Storytelling has nothing, and I repeat nothing, to do with the brand or the brands product. The best stories star the customer.

Bernadette Jiwa said it best “Analyze any piece of marketing collateral that resonates with you and you’ll realize that the company doesn’t tell the story of the product at all. What they do instead is tell the story of the customer in the presence of the product. The customer, not the product is the hero of the story.” 

So there you have it - the secret to storytelling is not about your product or brand but what the story is and how you share your message.

1. Your customer must be able to place themselves in your message and see how your product can be relatable or solve a problem.

2. In order to achieve this you will need to know who your audience is and what makes them ‘tick’.

3. This process will not happen overnight and will require constant refinement. Along with trial and error.

Marketing is a relationship not a sales pitch. Take the time to uncover what matters to your brand and your consumer. In todays ‘noisy’ market you need to transform the way you reach your audience and rise above the competition.

When you do not understand your audience you can risk generating a story that generates a negative association with your brand. For example Bloom

Photocredit: Brianna Doyon