Best tips for storytelling in branding and marketing?

By Limor Shiponi
Myanmar/ Burma by Eustaquio Santimano

After reading a lot of stuff about this issue I still have a question: what should one know? Many people use terms like narrative, story, storytelling, engagement, eliciting emotions, conversation marketing etc.

If you’re already at it I have another: what can storytelling really do?

Will be happy to read your thoughts around this issue…

15 thoughts on “Best tips for storytelling in branding and marketing?”

  1. This is one of the areas where I was hoping you would go on your ‘voices’ voyage. I’m off to tweet it out in hopes of getting others to join this conversation. I’ll be back and maybe we can do what we did with “Evolution’ only with more people involved!

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  3. When reality interacts with our expectations of said reality, then you have the need to explain what happened. That is story. When you expected to get the promotion and didn’t, you think of all the reasons why. Your dog get out of the back yard and runs away, your brain forms a narrative about why this happened. We see story everywhere.

    Where no narrative is given, we will create one. Hence the importance of business and people taking control of their narratives.

    What you must know (this is a brief and unsatisfying list at best):

    Characters: who is in your story? What is their story?
    Setting: When and where this is happening?
    Problem: What resources do the character(s) lack?
    Desire: What do characters choose to pursue?
    Obstacles: What gets in the way of fulfilling desire?
    Action and Dialog: What happens, what’s said, values exchanged.
    Ending/Reason for story: What resources did you hope to gain in the end?

    But them all together in a relationship and you have a workable strategy for Storytelling, marketing, branding, etc…

    1. Hi Josh and welcome,
      Thanks for being the first person to answer my question. Yes, someone will already tell the story won’t they? as you said, this is something important for anyone to realize. So you have a list of what I understand are essential parts of the raw material for a story, parts of a narrative. If you have time, can you share from your experience how the story is being shaped and told?

  4. Hey Limor and Gregg,

    I looked at this question for about 10 minutes and was trying to figure out why I had a mental block in answering it. And then it hit me (trying to figure out why it took me that long to come up with a simple answer. . .).

    The question is too broad and general (and to be frank the question just isn’t that interesting).

    To me asking the best tips for branding and marketing is like asking “what are the best tips for how to cook.” Cook what? Steaks, chicken, pasta, vegan dishes, soups…?

    The approach for building a brand and marketing for a tech start up is likely far different than that of a company that wants to start an herbal tea company with e-commerce.

    You have some things that are the same no matter what your industry area you are in (know your audience, know your competition, what’s your value proposition, blah, blah, blah) but there are issues specific to a fashion retail outfit that aren’t applicable to a social media marketing company.

    From where I’m sitting the question is asking something and nothing at the same time.

    So I’m wondering. . . what are you really asking??

    1. Hi Rasul and welcome,
      I’m smiling here – 10 minutes?! you are one devoted person… I totally agree with you – the question is too broad. There was a reason for that (Gregg by the way is not to ‘blame’ for this broadness) – to lay a very basic opening possibility for anyone to answer and/or join in the conversation, whether a high-profile pro or a pre-beginner in the field and anything in the middle. It is the language you use which is important for me as the concepts you bring in. I hope we will manage to gather some wisdom and create a conversation for everyone to enjoy and pick-up advice from.

      You have already brought some understandings with you I find very important – not everything you story about is the same as anything else. Therefor stories cannot be used as templates. You might have some procedure for collecting raw material but then the crafting is something else, so is the telling, so are the audiences about to experience the story.

      So although I created a 10 min. mental block on your side, I thanks you very much for hanging in until it dissolved into an understanding because I’m sure there are other people that meet this situation.

      Hope you will continue with us.

  5. Hey Limor and Gregg. . .

    lol, I actually looked at the question again and there was a disconnect between what was asked and how my brain was wrapping itself around what was asked. . .

    And my comments are actually addressing a whole other issue that I was having earlier today with another colleague. (It’s like taking out your anger on a friend from another situation).

    This is what happens when you’re on the phone and the computer for too long without taking a break!

    Allow me another stab at it later, after walk around the block and a power nap. (lol). Thanks. . .

  6. Hey Limor,

    I’m back πŸ™‚ With a walk around the neighborhood and 3 hour power nap. . . I think I can really dig into this better and get to the essence of my thoughts (without ideas and discussions from conversations getting in the way πŸ˜‰

    Firstly I would say what are “considerations for storytelling. . .” I believe that words hold and limit and/or expand the space in which one sits, and tips, I feel, don’t get to the crux of what is truly needed when beginning this process. Considerations say “you may want to put this on your plate, but if not then let’s see what you have.” Learning can and should be involved (for both the company/consultant/firm and the client/customer). This, I feel allows for internal expansiveness (for both parties). Tips are bullet points that may or may not be relevant. From the minute you are hired you want to provide value. If you are providing “stuff” that’s not relevant, you are wasting your client’s time and money.

    Ok, with that as my own personal approach, I think that for the marriage between storytelling and brand strategy/marketing to work you need to ask questions. And when asking these questions, make sure you’re in a place in which you are coming to the table with an organic mindset. The dynamics at play in the market that determine ‘brand success’ are both evident and invisible. Your job as the brand navigator/facilitator is to know how fashion the ingredients of the ‘brand to be’ so they are flexible and adaptive. And I believe that starts with asking powerful and meaningful questions.

    For instance. A first question could be. .. is there even a story to tell? Maybe the story is about how a story doesn’t exist and the brand is about discovery and
    unexpectedness. Depending on the company organization, this could be a valuable approach.

    This is just one question to ask amongst MANY.

    Soooo. .. this would be my approach and recommendation for initial steps to take on brand building. Thanks for bearing with me on this one πŸ™‚

    1. Hi Rasul,
      Thanks for returning with this great comment. ‘Tips’ was part of the pull-in conspiracy – as a storyteller I have a great difficulty with this word when anything deeper that how to hang laundry is considered. On a more serious note, bullet points got some people killed already (see the inquiry report for the Columbia).

      Asking questions creates expansion – here is another thing to notice and remember. When walking into a new space, listen. What should you be listening for? you’ll find out. If there is life around you you’ll have any reason to ask questions. Always start from the very beginning, never assume you know anything or else you might ‘find’ the same story again and again.

      Rasul, another thing that pops out of your comment is the ability and capacity of the person doing the work. This is something that cannot be duplicated or turn into a commodity. Therefor many times it is questioned “how do you know?” “what concrete methodology do you work with? has this been proven?” You can’t really sell a storyteller in a box or a brand navigator/facilitator for instant use (interesting choice of words here – what difference do they represent for you?). Have you ever met from the market the wish this ability could be bought? just curious.

      Josh suggested a list that can be useful for collecting narrative materials (unsatisfying as he says) you are suggesting questions and from the one you presented you’re entering the same space from a different door – walking into the narrative and looking for connections. Like the next question:

      Is there something about this place/person people don’t know and they really should?

      Looking for the person I’m talking to to look into the narrative and make some connections for me , find essence in his eyes. For someone who is starting to work in the branding/marketing spaces, what route would you suggest? Josh – you’re welcome. Gregg? anyone else?


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  8. Hi all,
    Leaving today, suppose I will have limited internet access so if you comment and can’t see your comment – bear with me until I’m able to approve it. Can’t leave the blog open to free comments because of spam. Don’t jump on the beds while I’m away and I’ll see you soon.
    Regards, Limor.

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