Storytelling is such a buzzword in the marketing industry these days. There’s been a hype about successful brand storytelling examples.
What does storytelling mean in a business context? Does it mean that businesses need to hire a James Joyce for their brands to be successful? That’s what you’ll find out in this article.
You’ll find out how to connect a story to your brand with brand storytelling examples and why that matters.
Overview of the Market
Before we go through the specifics of brand storytelling examples, let’s take a look at the market your business dwells in today.
If your business is a small or a medium sized one, it’s dangerous for you out there. Customer expectations are skyrocketing high above, and your budget is too low to compete with the big sharks.
On the other hand, it’s not easy for the big sharks either. Because guaranteed customer loyalty is gone. The minute a consumer is not happy with what you’re offering, they will move on to your competitor; who is most probably just a click away.
That’s good news for new brands, but bad news for the old ones who thought nothing would steal their loyal customers away.
Those large businesses need to thrive every single day to be innovative and to exceed those customers’ expectations, or else they would be gone with the wind.
Social Media Is the Plot Twist
Social media: that double-edged weapon. The great thing about social media is that it has given everyone a voice. The worst thing about social media is that it has given everyone a voice.
While giving a voice is empowering to many, it has also created a clutter. Especially in the marketing context.
Ten years ago, a brand with a good social media presence and an app owned the world. Today, this doesn’t mean much. Almost every business is present on social media and applications are rare anymore.
At some point, marketers got so caught up in the process, calendars, and numbers that they lost their story, they lost their audience, and they lost purpose.
See Also: Brand Development
Feed Us Content!
Content for the sake of content, that’s what most businesses seem to be doing. How many times you heard business owners saying “We just want to be there, on digital platforms” or the most common “Let’s create a viral campaign!”?
The problem with marketing these days isn’t that it lacks creativity, it rather lacks strategy and connection.
Content creators either create fragmented pieces of content that do not deliver on strategy or they create good content that doesn’t engage with the customer on a deeper level. It doesn’t really affect their purchasing decisions nor enrich the brand’s equity.
Marketers and brand managers are giving priority to quantity; measuring their success on vanity metrics, likes, traffic, views, and followers.
These numbers actually take them further away from the people who matter most to the brand.
Instead, they need to measure the value that their content adds to moments that matter.
There’s no wonder that many brands are struggling to get in real touch with their consumer.
See Also: Advantages of Branding
Users Are Tuning Out, Unsubscribing…
So, what’s the need for a story? Users are tuning out, unsubscribing, and unfollowing because they are busy doing something else. What is it? Does it mean they’re not spending time on social media?
No! The average person spends about two hours and 23 minutes per day on social media. There’s variance according to the region, however, that’s the average.
So, people are out there on social media. Meanwhile, many people still watch TV.
Despite what you hear about the dying TV industry; in the United Kingdom, 43% still prefer to watch live TV. “During a typical year, participants in the study spent a total of 718 hours watching live TV – that equates to just under five years over the course of their lifetime.”
So, everyone knows that people love consuming media and content, whether on social media or elsewhere.
So, why are they tuning out from brands? Because brands can’t keep them engaged with a story.
Consumers would spend five hours binge watch a Netflix series, but they will skip a five second ad on YouTube.
It’s not because of distraction or lacking time that they tune out, it’s rather because they are unentertained.
What Does Storytelling Have to Do with Business?
In today’s hectic and demanding market, entertainment is the core of brand management.
The days of pure selling and traditional advertising techniques are long gone. To be able to maintain or grow your audience, you need to keep them engaged.
Marketing is no longer a one sided conversation.
Customers now are not “audience”, they are a part of the play. They interact with your content. And you can immediately tell if they like what they’re seeing or not.
Measuring their feedback is not about likes and views that you can buy to please the management.
It has to do with evaluating the added value that your customers get the moment they encounter your brand on any online or offline platform.
Successful marketing techniques in our day relies heavily on a pull strategy rather a pushing one.
Brand Storytelling Examples: Why Storytelling?
What Is Storytelling?
Starting with defining what storytelling is. In a day to day context, a story is a sequence of events which unfold through time. But what does a story mean in a business context?
Storytelling marketing is an essential technique used while building the heart and soul of a brand.
Brand strategists create values, mission, vision, and reasons to believe in the brand. Those are all crucial for giving direction to what a brand represents and how it behaves in the market.
However, that’s not what connects consumers to a brand.
What Connects Consumers to Brands?
Consumers do not care about strategies. Two things that connect consumers with brands: experience and communication.
A brand experience is the ultimate exposure of the brand from the consumer’s perspective; from the moment he/she is aware of the product to the point beyond purchasing.
Communication, on the other hand, is what connects or repels your audience to the brand. Consumers don’t just buy products for convenience reasons. They purchase with other needs in mind as well.
Most of these needs are rather emotional, not logical.
Think of any of the big brands, do people buy this brand for pure convenience purposes? Or, do they it for something that connects them to it? For instance, nostalgia, glamour, luxury, social distinction, or even a cause.
People continue to buy brands whom they feel some relevance to.
See Also: How to Build Your Brand
Brand Storytelling Examples: What Makes a Good Story?
By giving your products and services an identity and by capturing and sharing the stories they really are, you can take your target audience on a journey that they yearn to experience. In order for consumers to form a personal connection with your brand, company stories must be authentic, creative, inspirational, and most importantly, relevant.
Good Stories Are Authentic
There are a limited numbers of plotlines. However, what makes the big difference is how the story is told.
In other words, at a first glance, you may find it hard to come up with an original story. You may feel like all the stories were told. Yet, what will truly distinguish your brand story is the way you tell it.
Let’s take Snickers as a good example. Snicker’s successful brand story of “You’re not you when you’re hungry” is an authentic one.
Nevertheless, when you take a closer look, the story in plain words is that Snickers is good as a heavy, quick snack that fulfills your hunger. A story that tens of other brands have used before.
Good Stories Are Relevant
What made Snickers stand out is how that was conveyed through exaggerated, funny characters which we can all relate to. There’s the grumpy hungry and there’s the dramatic hungry. We’ve all been there!
One can’t put enough stress on how important relevancy is to stories. Humans tell stories basically because it connects them to each other. It’s a survival tool.
We find relevancy in each other’s stories, so, we connect, we build friendships, families, and communities. This is why relevancy is the core of any beloved story.
That’s exactly why brands which operate on a global scale come up with universal stories. Like that of Snickers, or Disney’s. The bigger your target audience is, the broader the subject should be.
Unlike luxury brands, for instance, they only need to be relevant to the lifestyle of a specific social class. Brands that speak to one gender also find stories that relate to that gender.
Purchased products are a means of self-expression. If a brand tells a story against cruelty, then those who purchase are relating themselves to the story.
American Eagle has been telling the story of the beauty of “being real”. Through that story, many women started using their products because the brand is inclusive. So, they associate themselves with a brand that promotes for acceptance and self-love, unlike many of American Eagle’s competitors.
Good Stories Inspire
Inspiring isn’t the same as positive. You can inspire through negativity as well.
Take a look at this campaign for using plastic alternatives.
An inspiring story is one that evokes change. It pushes people to actually do something. Something that matters, or something that makes them be or feel better.
It can be a very minor change. Or, it can be a great cause.
Most importantly, by having a real impact, a good story is remembered. Think of any story that has affected people for ages. For instance, Harry Potter.
Why did this story have a huge impact on so many? It inspired them to believe. To believe in magic, to believe in goodness. To believe in love and in friendship.
Although, nowhere in the story would you find the author saying “You must believe in love and magic, kids.” Yet, the message is there. Subtle, yet powerful through being inspiring.
Remember, nobody ever gets inspired through orders. There’s no inspiration in a bedtime story of how you should brush your teeth and the benefits of sleeping early.
Don’t “parent” your audience. Let your story inspire change, but not through orders. That’s exactly what distinguishes storytelling from traditional advertising and content.
Inspire people to travel by telling stories about adventure. Inspire them to eat healthy by making greens cool again.
Visuals can be inspiring, music can be inspiring. Even narration can be inspiring. All you need to do is find a way to invoke change.
Brand Storytelling Examples: A Story or a Brand Story?
Is there a difference between a story and a brand story? Yes, definitely. Although they both share many features, they are still not entirely the same.
A brand story focuses on connecting consumers to the brand or products through an engaging story.
On the other hand, a story is just for the sake of entertainment. It focuses on attracting the audience to the story itself.
If you cannot measure the impact of the story on the brand, then your story wasn’t successful as a brand story.
Entertainment VS Engagement
Earlier, it was mentioned that entertainment is now a crucial part of the marketing game. But what if it becomes only about entertainment? Is that right or wrong?
Before answering if it’s right or wrong, let’s go through the common objectives of brands.
Why do brand managers want to engage with people? Because they want to build brand awareness, they wish to increase sales, they want to have a higher brand equity, build a bridge of trust for better brand recall.
As the brand grows, they target up-selling and creating a community of loyal brand ambassadors and users.
Evaluate the story of any piece of content against those objectives, especially those big campaigns that consume a big bulk of the marketing budget.
If the story is the means through which a consumer is connecting to the product or the brand, then it’s good to go.
However, many brands still let the story override the brand.
Brand storytelling isn’t the same as making a movie, a stand-up comedy, or a music video. The recipe isn’t having an A class celebrity or a catchy song that goes viral.
Although this would achieve views, likes, and create a buzz; it may never translate into real benefit for the brand. People could watch it or share it without even remembering the brand’s name.
Therefore, make sure that any form of your content, tells a story that would mean something to your brand.
How to Come Up with a Solid Brand Story?
Use Your Brand’s Identity
Your brand identity isn’t your logo. Your mission and vision are not some documented statements to be thrown away in a drawer.
Your story must be in line with what your brand represents.
Imagine your brand as a person. Your brand is loud, vibrant, and colorful. Then that should inspire your stories.
Your brand is fierce, rebellious, and dark. Then, your story should follow.
You can’t be singing about rainbows, while your brand targets misfits.
You’d be surprised at how rich your brand identity is with stories that you can tell. Stories that tell the world why you came up with that service, what your vision stands for, or how the culture inside your company looks like.
Stories are everywhere, so you may as well start searching for them inside your company first.
Understand Your Customer’s Point of View
If your brand is still new, listen to the first adopters of your brand. What sort of feeling do they get from your services or products?
Ask them if your brand was a person, how would it be like? Let them become a part of the story as well. Their stories will be authentic and genuine.
Meanwhile, if your brand already has a legacy and your consumers have a perspective on what your brand represents. Start from there. Do not go against the current.
If you come up with a good story that doesn’t match with your history, your existing customers will feel disconnected.
It’s comprehensible that you may want to change with time, yet still, the change should be creative, but it shouldn’t be too shocking that you lose all your history.
Broaden Your Vision
If you choose storytelling as a marketing technique, use a story that can last. Something that you can build on.
Many brands make that mistake; using a very short-sighted brand story. When the business expands, the story is no longer relevant. So, they end up looking for a new one too soon.
That’s why, take your time to explore. Experiment. If you’ll hire someone else to do the storytelling part for you, make sure that they offer more than one narrative.
That’ll give you a better chance of choosing the far-sighted story.
Brand Storytelling Examples: The Secret Ingredients of Stories
The Magical Words “What If”
Imagination starts at What If! It opens the doors to answers. To innovations. What if toys could talk? What if humans can fly?
It’s these sort of questions that trigger our minds to come up with a narrative.
Grab a pen and a paper and write down a crazy “what if” list about your brand. It doesn’t matter how silly it gets. You will end up with many ideas answering those questions.
For example, what if your product becomes the most wanted product in the world?
That’s a question that would broaden your vision.
Maybe they’ll directly inspire you with a brand story, maybe they won’t. But they will sure be useful to light up a flicker of your imagination. You’ll know what you want and what doesn’t match your brand identity.
World and characters are the two main pillars of stories.
World is the environment or set of rules where a story takes place.
As a second exercise, imagine what the world of your brand would look like. Imagine its rules, its colors, and its look and feel. Imagine the pace of that world, its values, and how it’d be like in the future.
This exercise would help you craft a universe for your brand which would be the basis of the story.
Think of those who would dwell in that world. They would definitely be your consumers and the biggest asset of your brand.
How do they look like now? What are their dreams and aspirations? But most importantly, how would the fit into your world?
How would they look like when they become a part of the world you created? How will it transform them?
Characters should be real and layered. They have wants, needs, enemies, obstacles, and priorities.
Building up your characters is a great exercise to inspire brand stories.
Characters could be rigid, aware, or dreamy. They could be anything. What matters is how they will change when they step into your world.
Brand Storytelling Examples: B2C
So, roll up your sleeves and prepare yourself to learn from the great. There’s a lot to learn from these brand storytelling examples.
Each story is unique, as there is no one single rule that guarantees success. However, there’s a process to learn and to be consistent with.
Brand Storytelling Example #1: Heineken
The magic of the green bottle with the red star. Heineken is one of the global brands that has associated itself with experiential marketing.
Heineken has taken home The Marketer of the Year award twice from the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Their advertising is one of the most resonating with consumers.
Heineken’s Light Celebrity Endorsement
Heineken USA’s CMO, Nuno Teles, explains how science and storytelling successfully drive sales and win awards.
“We deliver outstanding creativity because we are convinced a marketing model that starts with science, insight and understanding of all that data will grow our business. But then you need to deliver it through a storytelling mystique. We call this the three-act approach, and it’s not just about creativity; it has to be rooted in consumer understanding, too.”
Heineken’s Light was declining by 18%.
By digging deeper, they knew that consumers would try it if they truly believe it’s a premium; the best out there. The beer already got proof. It was named Best Tasting Low Calorie Lager twice at the World Beer Championships.
Storytelling took that “proof” to another level, watch this!
Celebrity endorsement here was on point. It was the celebrity serving the brand, and not the other way around. It makes the beer so irresistible that the actor just can’t believe he won’t taste it.
As you can see, the story here is light and humourous, it’s very brief and simple.
There’s no great plot, no complications whatsoever. However, it resonates with the brand’s positioning as an enthusing one that brings about quality good time.
Heineken reached 35 million consumers between TV and digital in the first three days of this campaign and Light’s sales increased by seven percent.
Heineken’s The Candidate: Not Your Typical Interview
Take two with Heineken’s here with their HR campaign: The Candidate. Honestly, who would have thought that storytelling could make an HR campaign THAT successful? There are many lessons to learn from that story.
Lesson one: it creates incredible brand equity for Heineken.
Many people mistakenly think that building “a brand” is the job of the “marketing people”.
The truth is, building a brand should be a promise that the entire business makes; all departments of the company commit to deliver.
“We build true human connections and break down barriers, because we believe great moments of shared experiences are the best in life.”
This is one of Heineken’s core values.
See how they truly reflected every word through this hiring story? In other words, they kept their promise.
That’s why it achieved that positive feedback from enthusiastic candidates bombarding them with CVs.
Lesson two: Relevance
This is a perfect example of a story with a hero. The hero is the boy who got the job. And who wouldn’t relate to him? Who hasn’t spent months looking for a job, going through an interview after interview?
When you see his face, when his name shows up on the screen, one can’t help but smile and be truly happy for him. Why? Because we see ourselves in his story.
The story arc is also complete: buildup, obstacle, climax, and finally a resolution.
That standard story arc keeps the audience anticipating the ending, so they remain interested in the story.
Brand Storytelling Example #2: Budweiser’s Best Buds
Another alcohol brand makes this list of brand storytelling examples. Alcohol advertising has heavy regulations that would seem hindering to many creatives.
Yet, look at those storytelling masters engaging everyone with genius storytelling that keeps everyone hooked.
Rather than focusing on partying or getting drunk, most alcohol brands advertising focuses on the taste or social aspects of enjoying a beer with friends.
Budweiser’s campaign Best Buds took that to a whole new level.
Their campaign Best Buds was about raising awareness about drinking and driving. It mainly targets young drinkers, not through “dull advice” but through an emotional story.
The feels…Who wouldn’t be captivated by that story?
The campaign voices that it is super important not only to not drink and drive, but is even more important to have a safe place to stay.
Your drinking buds aren’t the only buddies you have. You have friends waiting for you home too. A perfect example of emotional appeal.
Another heart wrenching story about friendship.
This Best Buds story was about a puppy having an unlikely friendship with the horses; the horses become his safe place!
Although the message is less direct, the storytelling in this one is genius!
We have a full story with a puppy as the hero and humans are secondary. But it gathers close to 59 million views and has over 246 thousand likes. This “Puppy Love” commercial was aired during the Super Bowl XLVIII.
The goal was to make friends and families share these videos among each other as a sort of saying “hey, don’t let this happen to you, because if it does, I will be crushed.”
It’s so much better to talk about safe drinking in that way, from a friend to another friend. Hence, the name of the campaign was Best Buds. With a nice pun between bud and Budweiser.
Brand Storytelling Example #3: Chipotle’s Back to the Start
In 2012, none of those who tuned in to watch Adele steal all the Grammy’s expected an ad to be the highlight of the show. But it wasn’t just an ad.
Chipotle is an American chain of fast casual restaurants specialising in Tacos and mission-style burritos.
The brand has been through rough times. But they were able to get back on track and win the love from the most beloved consumers nowadays: millennials.
Their ad was a success because it was a story. The story about a Mexican farmer losing his soul to industrial techniques – and then battling resolutely to get it back.
Coupled by the sound of the intense Coldplay track, The Scientist, this story was penetrating.
The reason why Chipotle really nailed it with this one is because the storytelling directly reflects what the brand stands for. “Food with Integrity” has become the brand’s core competitive edge.
The entire business has altered its farming and livestock techniques to match with what they were preaching. In other words, they are practicing what they’re preaching.
Check out the rest of their amazing page on their website.
If you checked the page, you’ll know exactly why this was a success. They were not just “selling words.” They are giving reasons to believe in their story.
Chipotle landed the first Grand Prix to be awarded at the Cannes Lions for Branded Content and Entertainment, beating off strong competition from Montblanc, Qantas, Intel, Carling Black Label and others.
Brand Storytelling Example #4: Harley Davidson
At any point, if you want a perfect example of a brand that excels at what it does, without a doubt, choose Harley Davidson. No matter what it is, Harley Davidson does it best.
Product development, relevance to pop culture, a community of hardcore loyal users, a content strategy, and brand storytelling: they have done it all.
Since 1903, Harley Davidson has passed through ups and downs until they were able to earn their place today.
The reason why they’re on the list of the best brand storytelling examples is not because they have one or two great ads. They do have a long history of creating a brand story that users can relate to.
By creating an identity focused on the ideals of freedom, heritage, community, and quality, Harley Davidson has been able to establish itself as a historical part of the motorbike marketplace.
Its loyal following of cult-like customers understand exactly what the brand stands for, and the lifestyle experience they’re trying to sell.
Their popularity is based on an emotional experience, and a strong connection that defies logic, and goes beyond concerns like price points and technology.
And they have used that to their advantage in all the possible ways.
In these episodes of Freedom Stories, Harley Davidson literally empowers their riders. They give them space to write their own biography and how the brand is a part of the lifestyle they’ve chosen.
It’s no longer a product that they buy, it’s rather a life that they’ve chosen for themselves. Once a brand finds a way to being part of the DNA of its consumers through relevance, it’s invincible.
Moreover, similar to Heineken, their whole business strategy follows their brand’s identity.
This is another hiring campaign that completely fits with the brand’s values.
Amazing! Can you imagine the amount of resumes they must have received? But most importantly -not just any interns- but daredevils that fit with what the brand stands for.
One has to admit, if you want to learn anything about brand management, Harley Davidson is an ideal example.
Brand Storytelling Example #5: Heinz’ A Can Size for Every Aussie!
This Pixar-like three minute animation is one of the great brand storytelling examples. In case you haven’t noticed, this video has a whopping 35 million views on YouTube alone!
Heinz Australia wanted to announce their brand’s new can sizes that fit everyone’s needs. And is there a better way to make such an announcement? They’ve created a basic, simple story that, however, keeps you captured for three whole minutes.
If you examine the idea behind the story, it’s so traditional. A character is born, he grows up to work at Heinz, he then likes a girl from the spaghetti department, and finally they have kids.
There’s no great plot behind it. Nevertheless, it’s the way the animation is executed that keeps you watching: the delightful music, the charming colours, and all the adorable tiny details.
It all makes you love beans and remember the brand story.
Brand Storytelling Example #6: Nike’s Find Your Greatness and Dream Crazier
When it comes to consistently telling a brand story, few brands have the sustainable track record that Nike does.
Nike’s mission is to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world. And their co-founder Bill Bowerman has once said “If you have a body, you are an athlete.”
Indeed, his words weren’t just metaphorical. Just watch how he related his brand essence to every person in the world. He wanted anyone who “has a body” to just do it. To believe in him/herself enough to become an athlete.
And the brand followed, on all levels.
Nike also has been supporting top athletes and using influencer marketing way before it was cool Therefore, they have stayed relevant to sports culture all over the world.
What’s truly special about Nike using athletes in their brand marketing strategy is that they haven’t shown them as unapproachable. On the contrary, they always show their human side.
They have always insisted that the greatest athletes aren’t some natural born “superheroes”. They are humans, just like the rest of us. They only accepted the challenge and dared to Just Do It.
Through brand storytelling like these, Nike reserved its place as one of the most beloved brands in the world. One generation after the other believe in the stories that Nike keeps telling.
Brand Storytelling Example #7: Ritz Carlton’s Internal Wow Stories
This one from Ritz Carlton is a bit unique. It’s not an advertising story, it’s not even made to the public audience but to the internal staff.
One of their core values at the Ritz Carlton is fulfilling their customer’s unexpressed needs. Employees are fully empowered to create unique, memorable and personal experiences for their guests.
Unique means doing something that helps to separate Ritz-Carlton from other hotels, memorable forces the staff to do something that truly stands out. And personal is defined as people doing things for other people.
The Ritz-Carlton phrase they use with their staff is “Keep your radar on and antenna up” so that everyone can look for the unexpressed needs of their guests.
They have a culture of “wow stories” where they share remarkable situations when the staff excelled at offering a great experience for guests. One of those is when a guest called in saying that his child had left his stuffed giraffe in the room.
The poor boy was overwhelmed and couldn’t stop crying. So, the parents told their son that his giraffe was staying on vacation a little longer to calm him down.
The staff found the giraffe. Any other hotel would’ve put it in the lost and found till the boy’s parents claim it.
Not the Ritz Carlton, though.
Knowing what the parents had told their son about the giraffe staying on a bit longer, the staff also included a photo album of the giraffe enjoying his extra stay in the spa, by the pool, and everywhere in the hotel.
Imagine how the parents felt. And the signal it sends to them about the Ritz-Carlton staff. Imagine how those parents will be brand ambassadors through word of mouth. They would share this story with friends, family, and many others.
To inspire each other, everyone at Ritz-Carlton goes through a daily line up where they share wow stories, both local stories, and stories from other hotels around the world. This line up keeps everyone in line, but it also keeps people fully engaged.
This shows you how brand storytelling is a truly powerful technique that can be used in any form.
Stories have the biggest capability at keeping people engaged, whether it’s internal staff or target consumers.
Brand Storytelling Example #8: Dove’s Real Beauty
Real beauty campaign was a turning point to the marketing and advertising scene.
The campaign is a worldwide marketing campaign launched by Unilever back in 2004. It includes advertisements, video, workshops, sleepover events and the publication of a book and the production of a play.
The aim of the campaign is to celebrate the natural physical variation embodied by all women and inspire them to have the confidence to be comfortable with themselves.
In 2013, the brand’s story Dove Real Beauty Sketches was released. Take a look.
The story was so emotional and received an emotional feedback from the audience, especially women who felt that the message hit home.
Notice how the execution of that story was also natural, slow, and very minimal. Just like the concept of real beauty, Dove used “real advertising” with people who actually resembled the women you see every day.
Therefore, the campaign was able to tell the story of real beauty by real women.
Brand Storytelling Example #9: The Four Fat Ladies
The Four Fat Ladies is a new-born Egyptian brand that operates on a local level. But it’s a quite good brand storytelling example to learn from. They’ve won third place in the Dieline Awards 2013.
Their brand essence, positioning, identity, and packaging all follow a story that creates a strong bond between the consumers and the brand.
The story behind establishing this business was that four talented ladies with a joined passion for baking wanted to introduce their heart-felt flavours to the Egyptian market.
This is a brand that had started off in their kitchen, spreading their love for American-inspired recipes and deserts to those they knew and loved.
It is this personal edge of the brand that they wanted to emphasize. So, they built a strategy towards creating a brand that takes on the spirit and passion of the main characters behind the brand.
Through hand drawing these four characters, the faces have become an integral part of the brand’s image, just as much as the original ladies and their recipes are an integral part of the brand.
These characters are able to tell their story in a way that is light-hearted, simple, and relatable to their wide range of food-loving consumers.
Their content strategy also fits with that playful identity, which is also something else to learn.
Brand Storytelling Example #10: Volvo’s Live Tests
If you mention Volvo, safety and stability is what comes to your mind. They have positioned the brand to strongly occupy that space in the automotive market.
Now, when they wanted to demonstrate the exceptional stability and safety of their trucks, they’ve done that through employing some epic stunts that match with the target audience.
These thrilling, breath-taking stunts truly kept Volvo’s audience hanging at the edge of their seats. That gained Volvo a winning 93 million views for Van Damme’s epic split on YouTube alone.
“Before the viral campaign, we had worked with many different types of traditional marketing communication, including PR, social media, films on YouTube, and printed marketing materials,” explains Lars Terling, the company’s vice president marketing communications.
But Volvo Trucks realised that the media landscape had fundamentally changed since their last major launch. That’s why they opted for something different; entertainment.
Even though this brand storytelling example doesn’t have a story with a “full plot” like other examples. There’s something to learn here.
Storytelling comes in many shapes. It could be in the form of creating a world of entertainment like Volvo’s. Or, it could be the creation of lovely character mascots like those from The Four Fat Ladies. It doesn’t have to be a full arc story.
Brand Storytelling Example #11: Porsche
Porsche isn’t a brand that one can talk about. It’s a brand that speaks for itself. You’d never hear someone saying “I don’t want to have a Porsche” or “Porsche is overrated”.
Watch this extraordinary New Panamera’s ad, it can only come from a one of a kind brand like Porsche.
This is not a car commercial, this is a motivational movie.
Nobody could have put it out better.
This car ad doesn’t tell you about the specifications of the car, how fast it is, or how powerful the motor is. It’s far from that. It tells you the story of a new Porsche car. It says everything the car represents.
It’s really interesting to know that the core values for Porsche are tradition and innovation. They believe that those two are not contradicting at all.
This culture is particularly what the story is about. It elaborates the history of Porsche; its tradition, classic design, and heritage. Then, it shifts to how that heritage is interwoven with mad innovation breakthroughs.
It embeds Porsche’s culture through the audience through powerful storytelling.
The new Panamera becomes a value; courage, rather than merely a car. That affects the target audience way beyond traditional car advertising.
Brand Storytelling Example #12: Apple’s Share Your Gifts
Apple is one of the most influential brands across history. They have built their Apple world in a truly unique, inspiring way.
Apart from using innovation and their prominent technological breakthroughs, they have more importantly won the hearts of their customers. Apple has a faithful, devoted fan base.
But how did they manage to do it?
By empowering their users. They achieved it by superior customer service, optimal design, and finally by giving their consumers emotional benefits such as exclusivity.
Now, you probably know that Apple doesn’t spend a huge budget on advertising. So, when they do, it has to be worthy. Christmas 2018, they came up with a marvellous animated story for the holidays.
This kind of storytelling is so subtle about the brand. Nobody ever mentions “Apple” loud and clear. The video could even pass as a short movie. However, if you focus enough, Apple’s products are embedded in the story.
Apple products empower our hero. Without them, the girl would not have an outlet to write or share her gifts.
That’s how Apple tells the story of how they empower their consumers. They change the world through them. Therefore, they encourage their users to share their gifts and never hide.
Every gift shared changes the world a little.
If this isn’t an empowering brand storytelling example, then what is?
Brand Storytelling Examples: B2B
Generally, there’s always a struggle with business to business marketing. Building a business to business brand is typically more challenging than building a brand that interacts with the end consumer directly.
B2C products are easy to shine for that reason. Even if it’s a service, like Uber, it still interacts with consumers directly.
Whenever one mentions storytelling, B2B marketers think “oh, that’s not for us”. That’s why, let’s discuss these upcoming B2B brand storytelling examples to bust that myth. They all prove that storytelling is for any industry.
Brand Storytelling Example #1: The Wolf of HP
Hewlett Packard is an American brand famous for selling Printers and core PCs. However, they do also offer services and technology solutions to businesses. That makes their target audience highly variant.
They target individuals, businesses, different genders, and different age groups with many different needs.
In this brand storytelling example, HP wanted to tackle businesses. They wanted to stress on the optimum security and safety of their printers. That was challenging. Why? Because businesses do not consider security when it comes to printers.
They may consider security when it comes to their gadgets or maybe their PCs. But not their printers; which may give hackers the opportunity to attack.
HP had this cinematic, Hollywood material of an ad that’s almost a thrilling short movie. Take a look!
Perfect, eh? This malicious character played by Christian Slater is able to keep us on our toes! The script is flawlessly written to portray the Wolf as cunny, evil, yet perfectly rational and organized.
You can’t help but admit that it wasn’t his fault; it was nothing personal. It’s just that the “big company” wasn’t able to secure its printers and PCs.
They even released “season 2” of the Wolf.
After watching this one, you’re almost sure that governmental institutes will switch to HP. Or at least, revise their whole security systems.
Now let’s imagine the creative agency who received this ad’s brief. They probably were like: “An ad about secure printers? Nobody would ever want to watch that.”
Yet, look what happens when storytelling is employed in B2B communication.
Brand Storytelling Example #2: Maersk’s All the Way
Maersk is the biggest shipping line in the world. But if you think about their offering, how boring can it be? How would you make shipping cargo appealing to businesses? Who would want to follow them on Instagram or Facebook?
That’s when storytelling comes to their rescue.
Maersk’s team have been masters of storytelling for years because their industry lacks “a wow factor”, they are not Coca Cola or Nike. This pushed them to craft content that appeals even to those who are not interested cargo shipping.
And, there’s no better ingredient to attract people than stories.
Maersk’s blog and Instagram talk about interesting things such as building the biggest ship, Maersk’s CSR activities, stories from their employees about challenges in the sea, and how they plan to change the industry through digitising the whole logistic network.
Many of their audience may not be particularly interested in shipping, but they are surely interested in the stories Maersk has to tell.
Change All the Way
This campaign in particular was an ace game for Maersk. They wanted to launch a campaign that shows off how they are about to change the game for the whole field. That has to be big, unique, and of course, captivating. Once again they used storytelling.
The major lesson to learn from this brand storytelling example is: relevance.
They didn’t discuss technicalities, they didn’t discuss how ground-breaking their plan is, and they didn’t even mention what the “new idea” is.
By making it general, they made it relevant to each and every person and business.
The story is about how we are all split between wanting change and at the same time resist every time it’s around. With that trigger, you start to dig further “Oh, what are they up to? Let’s see…”
And that’s how they tell you the rest of the story through a series of posts and blogs.
A careful, well-planned content strategy with a story that ignites it. Storytelling all the way.
Brand Storytelling Example #3: Cisco’s Domino Effect for the Internet of Things
Cisco is another technology company that operates on the B2B side. They specialise into specific tech markets such as Internet of Things, domain security, and energy management.
So, it’s mainly a B2B brand unless you’re a technology geek.
Cisco is a brand that believes in the power of storytelling.
To make their audience realise how big the IoT is and how it’ll be involved in all aspects, they have used a well-known, interesting technique of storytelling: The Domino Effect.
This kind of light plot they used doesn’t contain characters, setting, or much plotting. However, it keeps the viewers hooked to find out where this chain of events takes them. It gives them a trace to follow.
This isn’t their first or last ad that uses storytelling. Here’s another example where they used American actor Peter Dinklage, best known for his role in Game of Thrones.
Notice how this looks like an episode of a series. Although there are no dazzling graphics, the story itself is powerful enough to make you stay till the end.
B2B brands are becoming entertainers rather than advertisers. Why? Because people do not want to watch ads anymore, and they have that “skip button” to hit at any point.
Brand Storytelling Example #4: Microsoft’s Reindeer Games
Brands like Microsoft are shiny and bright, but not because they produce stimulating products. They shine because they inspire. Businesses like Microsoft have truly changed the lives of billions.
Meanwhile, Microsoft is also one of the companies that do not spend huge budgets on advertising. So, when they do, it’s very simple and straight to the point.
In Christmas 2018, their holiday ad’s key message was about how Microsoft’s technology, like the Xbox Adaptive controller, empowers through diversity and inclusiveness.
That shows that Microsoft understands their brand’s value proposition and how their communication should carry their brand’s legacy.
The story carried the spirit of the season through an emotional, real-life storytelling approach.
Genuine, humble, and straight to the heart. Well done, Microsoft.
Brand Storytelling Example #5: GE’s A Snowball’s Chance in Hell
General Electric is a massive B2B company and a brand with exceptionally high equity.
The company makes very complex products and services that range from aircraft engines, power generation, and oil and gas production equipment to medical imaging, financing and industrial products.
Their former Chief Marketing Officer and Vice Chair of Innovation, Beth Comstock talks about the future of storytelling and her solid belief in it. Take a look.
There’s no wonder that GE created great stories over the years when this brilliant lady was in charge.
Now, GE was facing more than one challenge.
First, most people don’t know about the technology that goes into their products. Quite honestly, they don’t care a whole lot either.
Another challenge is that they are trying to appeal to the next generation of potential shareholders because the average shareholder of GE is aging.
Moreover, at a brand level GE aims to inspire young engineers who can be potential employees and not just customers.
Keep in mind that, when it comes to attracting talent, GE is in competition with companies like Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Apple; all these sexy technology companies.
In other words, they are trying to say that GE too make cool things.
What they did was, first, they adopted storytelling as a corporate strategic priority and embedded it into their marketing communication.
This story is told from the perspective of a child about what her mom does. It’s enticing, creative, and nostalgic. We all remember a version of what we thought our parents did at work.
GE uses that to highlight all the cool things that they create which most people do not know about.
This upcoming B2B brand storytelling example is a mini movie that also highlights that there are cool things happening at GE.
From a series called UnImpossible Missions, this one is called A Snowball’s Chance in Hell.
Brilliant example of a thrilling, cool, and geeky creation which attracts engineers and younger tech-savvy minds.
GE pulled it off with these stories.
Before You Go: The Magic Potion of Brand Storytelling Examples
Brands and Human Connection
With the fourth wave of the industrial revolution already starting, the way people communicate is changing.
Most businesses think that technology alone will keep them thriving. They can’t be more wrong. Technology will soon be a given for every business. However, when everyone has it, brands who will still thrive are those with the best human connection.
Human connection is fundamentally built on how consumers view these brands. Do they see them “faking” their human voice or trying too hard to “sound human”? Or, do they actually witness their efforts in making their lives easier and better.
Communication is not just advertising. It’s an integrated part of a brand’s whole presence. If your communication isn’t in line with what your business stands for, it’ll fail.
In fact, storytelling isn’t new; it’s ancient. It works because it’s a basic human instinct; we’re born with it. Humans have built entire civilisations and culture based on stories that connect them together.
There are specific characteristics of stories that have a huge influence on consumers. However, there isn’t a manual. A good story is a good story.
So, the basics are the same with marketing. Know your audience, understand their needs, pain points and tell them a story that you know they will like.
Identify the objectives of your storytelling and be inspired from your brand’s purpose, mission, and vision. And of course, listen to what the audience already say about your business.
You may find inspiration for stories about your brand anywhere; from your employees, your products, your consumers, suppliers. Everyone has a story to tell, all you need to do is allow yourself to listen.