4 Types of Business Storytelling to Build Your Brand

31-May-2019 04:53 PM Content Marketing

Storytelling as a trend to sell products has taken off in a big way. Don’t be late to the party. Here are some types of business storytelling your brand can make use of.

In the digital age, consumers are in complete control of the content they devour. Cold calling, email blasts, and unsolicited brochures were annoying methods for customer outreach even during their peak popularity. Enterprising marketers resorted to studying consumer behavior and started sending marketing material that was tailor-made for the consumer.

This alarming trend called consumer data mining, led to a controversial case where retail giant Target was able to correctly infer that a teenage girl was pregnant even before her father knew. This resulted in some unwanted negative PR for Target. 

This led to a course correction where marketers looked at more subtle ways to advertise their catalog

The beginnings of a business story

At first, the change was organic. One by one, people began to realize the power of using a story to make consumers come to you rather than using backhanded techniques to shove products down their throats. And then came the pioneers who correctly identified the winning formula and started training their peers in the art of storytelling.

It wasn’t long before the entire advertising world was privy to this formula. People love stories. Stories elicit emotions. And emotions make people buy. A small jump for brands but a huge leap for the advertising industry as a whole. 

Soon, every savvy marketer began to use stories to sell products. What followed was a market saturated with feel-good stories, inspirational accounts, and emotionally stirring anecdotes to sell everything from talcum powder and cocoa beans.

The storytelling trend has been a hit or a miss for many brands, but that doesn’t need to be the case with your brand. By crafting stories with a definite purpose, you can still connect with your readers in an effective way.

Type 1: Customer Stories

On Land Rover’s 70th anniversary, the company released a video titled “The Land Of Land Rovers.” The video gave us a glimpse into the daily hardships the locals endured while moving supplies and people between two villages in the remote Himalayas. To do this task, the people swear by their fleet of 42 1957 Land Rovers. “I don’t feel safe in any other vehicle,” says a man featured in the video. 

Sweeping panoramic shots of the Himalayas are spliced between shots of Land Rovers trudging through what can only be called the most dangerous roads in the world. 

The drivers are unfazed by the precarious driving conditions. They place complete trust in their Land Rovers and have done so for more than 40 years. 

This is an example of customer storytelling. When your brand has a positive influence on people, they’ll come out with positive testimonials themselves. But it doesn’t hurt to go out and gather details about how your brand/product is changing lives and crafting it into an enticing story. Building a brand image this way is guaranteed to last.

Type 2: Origin Stories

From wallpaper cleaner to the ubiquitous toy — that’s the story of Play-Doh. The putty was initially marketed as a wallpaper cleaner as homes heated with coal would leave a layer of soot residue on the wallpaper. This need decreased over time as people switched to different, cleaner heating methods. Kutol, the company behind the putty, also noticed that many teachers were using their product in classrooms to build models. 

This sparked new life into a struggling company. After removing the detergent from their compound, adding a few different colors, some new scents and rebranding themselves as a children’s toy seller, they released the product we now know as Play-Doh.

A story like this explaining the birth of your product will go a long way into cementing your brand into the customer’s mind. People always remember interesting stories even if they don’t use the product themselves. This helps in keeping the brand memory alive.

Improv comedian Michael Dublin started Dollar Shave Club as a solution to the absurdly high cost of shaving razors. Their subscription service that delivers men’s grooming products epitomizes the reason for their existence — cost and convenience. 

This origin story is reflected in their motto as well, with some clever punning — Shave Time, Shave Money.

Type 3: Event Stories

Launching every product with over-the-top stunts has been BrewDog’s modus operandi since they began in 2007. The Scottish craft beer giant bet early and big on content to survive in the cutthroat UK beer industry, investing in their own online streaming service and building massive hype around all their products. 

Positioning themselves as punk brewers (whatever that means) BrewDog made news by driving a tank through the streets of London to raise awareness about their ‘Equity for Punks’ crowdfunding scheme. BrewDog built a punkish, anarchist theme around their product launch events in line with their company’s origin story — that of an unholy anarchist brewer competing against the Goliaths of the brewing industry. 

Calling all beer lovers to invest in the company with such stunts have worked well for BrewDog, earning the company more than £1 million in funding. 

Type 4: Product Stories

How does a clothing company stay in business for over 165 years? Since starting out in 1853, Levi Strauss & Co has continually reinvented their product line. And each time, they did so with a subtle story. They got their initial momentum by marketing their rugged pants to gold miners of California during the gold rush. Next came the rebellion era where they positioned their denim as the in thing among rebellious youth and hippies of the 60s and 70s. 

Now, the brand is marketing its products to millennials who don’t want to live under the label of ‘business casual.’ Every ad campaign that Levi’s has ever run, has stuck to a theme resonating with that generation. By using storytelling, Levi’s has been able to promote their brand without describing or promoting their products.

Whatever your brand or your product, mastering the art of business storytelling in your pitches will help consumers better connect with it. Storytelling is now the standard way to sell products. 

It’s the most efficient way to sell your products without selling them.