We have been sharing stories from the beginning of human
civilization — for good reason. Stories captivate our attention
and build communities by bringing ideas, emotions, and experiences
to life in a memorable way. So much so, that companies are
increasingly embracing brand storytelling in the era of the
connected digital consumer.
What is Brand Storytelling?
Brand storytelling is defined as the art of shaping a
company’s identity through the use of narratives and storytelling
techniques that facilitate an emotional response and establish
When done correctly, research shows the powerful impact
storytelling can have on us:
- Stories are 22 times more
memorable than facts & figures alone
- Our neural activity
increases 5X when listening to a story
lights up the sensory cortex in the brain, allowing the
listener to feel, hear, taste, and even smell the story
As a result, in a time when captivating consumer attention is
the ultimate commodity, it has never been more important for
companies to tell the right stories. The stories that stop us in
our tracks, the stories that move us to tears, the stories that
challenge us and change our perspective.
In a time when captivating consumer attention is the ultimate
commodity, it has never been more important for companies to tell
the right stories.
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There’s a magical spark that happens when consumers
truly connect with a brand’s story, but how do companies source
those unicorn, one-of-a-kind stories? Inspired by our book,
The Laws of Brand Storytelling, here are three brilliant
examples of brand storytelling you may have missed.
Brand Storytelling Example 1: The Land Of Land Rovers Campaign
Land Rover Showcases Why The Best Stories Come From
In celebration of Land Rover’s 70th anniversary, the company
brought to life the true story of, “The Land of Land Rovers,” a
remote area in the Indian Himalayas. The video tells the story of
the local drivers who rely on a fleet of meticulously maintained
1957 Land Rover vehicles to provide transport and supplies along
the treacherous mountain roads between two small villages,
Maneybhanjang and Sandakphu.
To bring this remarkable story to life, Land Rover’s team made
the village of Maneybhanjang their home for ten days in order to
get to know these brave drivers and experience their everyday life.
The end result delights the viewer with its stunning
cinematography, while hearing from the drivers and villagers only
further reinforces the incredible off-road capabilities of Land
The Best Stories Are Not Your Own
Land Rover’s campaign offers a brilliant example and a
reminder that the best stories are not your own, but those of your
customers and your fans. Sourcing those stories might be tough, but
when you find those that truly touch people’s hearts, invest in
bringing them to life and prioritize them over your product
The best stories are not your own, but those of your customers
and your fans.
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Your Action Item: Get to Know Your
To uncover the best customer stories, our best tip is to
invest in getting to know your customers. From
asking for customers to share their stories and memories with your
company or products through social media or email campaigns, to
running contests to encourage stories, top companies create a
culture of sharing and storytelling.
Additionally, look at the many customer-facing touchpoints in
your business, from sales to customer care, public relations,
retail employees, and more. Employees on the front lines always
have the best stories, but don’t necessarily know who to share
them with. Whether it’s through regular check-ins, internal
contests or targeted employee communications in newsletters or in
the employee break room in-store, create processes for employees to
Brand Storytelling Example #2: Ikea’s Improve Your Private Life
IKEA Singapore Highlights The Power Of Humor In
Every company speaks to the value of their products and
services, but how many successfully turn those products or services
into a laugh-out-loud funny yet relatable story? Consider taking a
page from IKEA Singapore’s Shelf Help Guru campaign. The video
campaign stars Fille Güte, a ‘Shelf Help Guru,’ who wants to
take IKEA customers on a journey of ‘shelf discovery’ to
improve their private lives in their most private areas: their
bedrooms and bathrooms.
What makes the video shine is how it uses cheeky
scenarios and hilarious puns to illustrate practical storage and
furniture solutions from IKEA. The use of humor is spot on, truly
captivating the viewer while positioning IKEA as the go-to retail
store for improving your home.
However, what’s also exciting about this example of brand
storytelling from IKEA Singapore is how the company continued the
storyline with its customers on Facebook with a Shelf Help Guru
Contest. In the contest, IKEA Singapore challenged fans to ask its
Shelf Help Guru a question on how to improve their bedroom or
bathroom for a chance to win a $50 gift card. Although a seemingly
simple idea, IKEA Singapore had its Shelf Help Guru personally
respond to every comment with a funny meme answering the person’s
question with a link to the relevant IKEA product page.
Don’t Be Afriad to Get Personal with Your
IKEA Singapore’s campaign speaks the fact that companies
shouldn’t be afraid to get personal with their customers, even if
it means poking a little fun at yourself. While humor can
be hard to master, our best tip is to flex your funny bone aligned
with your brand voice and values. Humor should be an
extension of your brand voice and incorporated into your wider
marketing and storytelling strategy. The brands with the best and
most authentic tone of voice, in addition to the most humorous
brands, are the ones that deeply know who they are and what makes
them special. These brands also deeply understand how their
customers perceive them, plus their needs, wants and wishes. The
‘secret sauce’ comes from translating these insights, values
and key differentiators into a clever communications style that
banishes boring in favor of personality.
Additionally, IKEA’s campaign showcases how succeeding in
today’s digital age calls for more than just campaigns but for
creating positive experiences for your customers.
Your Action Item: Connect with Your Customer-Service
Facing Employees so They Understand Key Messages to
An actionable tip is to connect with your customer-facing
employees, such as community managers and customer service reps.
These folks are on the front lines of speaking and interacting with
customers each and every day. This campaign is a good reminder of
just how valuable their efforts are in further driving engagement
around your brand storytelling efforts.
It’s one thing to tell an incredible story, but the
reality is that the story is just the beginning. For
example, when we tell stories to our friends and family, it sparks
a reaction and a conversation among the storyteller and the
recipient. Why wouldn’t we want the same as companies? As you
develop your brand stories, make sure to factor in engagement
activities to further amplify and activate your community around
them. Make sure your customer-facing employees know the “back
story,” from the inspiration, key messages and why the story
matters so they are empowered to continue the conversation.
Brand Storytelling Example #3: Sanlam Bank’s #OneRandMan
Sanlam Bank Showcases How Storytelling Can Spark
Not to be outdone by their consumer counterparts, the financial
services industry can still be put human reality at the heart of
their stories. The following example from Sanlam Bank may not be a
tearjerker, but it firmly establishes itself as an example of
storytelling that helps people live better lives.
In South Africa, research shows that most people do not save
much of their salary. So much so, that household debt averages
of their after-tax income. To educate South Africans about the
importance of saving money, Sanlam Bank launched a 5-part web
series called One Rand Man, featuring a young professional who
embarks on a social experiment – getting paid only in one rand
coins. For context, one rand coin is about seven cents in U.S.
currency. The video series documents his trials and tribulations of
paying for everyday expenses in coins. Each week, Sanlam Bank also
joined forces with respected local personal finance news outlets to
share advice and tips based on the issues faced by the One Rand
Telling the story of One Rand Man, combined with valuable
finance thought leadership, sparked a chord in South Africans.
The video series was watched over
900,000 times, making it the most-watched ad on YouTube in
South Africa during the time of the campaign. Furthermore, the
effort generated over 74 million media impressions, earning over
million rand worth of media exposure for the company (approx
$2.8M U.S. dollars). The wild success of One Rand Man spawned One
Rand Family and other similar episodic spin-offs, further inspiring
and educating South Africans around the importance of personal
finance and saving money.
Whether you’re trying to spark change or prove to a
customer why your products or services are a good fit for them,
seek out stories that are either true or highly
To connect with your audience, seek out stories that are either
true or highly relatable.
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Even though One Rand Man wasn’t a true story, seeing how a big
pile of one rand coins quickly was spent in a month was highly
visual and allowed South Africans to empathize with expenses in
their everyday lives. Comical scenarios like trying to pay for
bills in hundreds of coins kept the content interesting, while
using the storyline to feed into expert advice and tips added
credibility. It also showcases the power of brand storytelling,
personalized content and thought leadership, can drive web
traffic, sales, demo requests, and more.
Your Action Item: Leverage Visual Storytelling to Bring
Your Stories to Life
An actionable tip for businesses is to leverage visual
storytelling to bring your stories to life. As humans, we are wired
to process visual information more efficiently, so much so that it
makes our stories more memorable:
- Visuals are processed 60,000
times faster than text by the human brain.
90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual.
- People can recall 65%
of the visual content that they see almost three days later,
compared to 10% of written content.
In order for companies to cut through the clutter, focus on how
your visuals can support or take the lead in your storytelling
efforts. Whether it’s a blog post with supporting
visuals or an inspirational video, the more companies can
ensure consistency of message in every element of their
storytelling efforts, the more they will connect with their
Are you ready to tell your brand’s story?
Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio are the co-authors
The Laws of Brand Storytelling: Win―and Keep―Your
Customers’ Hearts and Minds (Nov. 2018).