storytelling-examples

Storytelling Examples

Every action that is performed by a business has an underlying narrative, whether those actions be related to the brand, customers, advocates, employees, or stakeholders. 

Storytelling is a process where a narrative is created to allow a business to share its values, experiences, and history with the desired target audience. A connection is formed with the business when the audience can relate to some aspect of the business’s story in a way that is personal, emotional, and meaningful.

Businesses use these connections to foster brand loyalty among consumers, among many other applications. To get an appreciation for the power of storytelling in business, consider the following examples.

Formula 1 

The Formula One World Championship is to most people a simple story about winners and losers. However, marketers realized that this story was too familiar and failed to engage fans beyond the race itself.

To broaden the appeal of the sport, a Netflix documentary series was released with behind-the-scenes footage of the interactions between various drivers, teams, and the FIA throughout a season. The series, which was titled Drive to Survive, was praised for its ability to give context to storylines that were often formed while the competitors were not racing. 

This series was also a hit with viewers. According to data released by ESPN, viewership for the 2021 season was 53% higher than it was for 2020

Patagonia

patagonia-business-model
Patagonia is an American clothing retailer founded by climbing enthusiast Yvon Chouinard in 1973 who saw initial success by selling reusable climbing pitons and Scottish rugby shirts. Over time Patagonia also became a fashionable brand also for its focus on slow fashion. Indeed, the company sells high-priced clothing items built to last which it will repair for free.

Outdoor adventure brand Patagonia is also a master storyteller. The audacious “Don’t Buy This Jacket” campaign saw the company encouraging its customers not to buy Patagonia products unless they really needed to replace an old item.

Six years after that campaign was released, the company announced it would be suing Donald Trump after he reduced the size of public land in Utah by almost 2 million acres.

Both initiatives invited consumers with similar values to become part of the Patagonia story as a brand that advocates environmentalism, sustainability, and anti-consumerism.

TD Bank

Canadian financial institution TD Bank released a content hub called TD Stories, where employee stories are skillfully tied to the company’s mission.

During November, the hub features the stories of employees with a military background to recognize National Veterans and Military Families Month. These stories are aligned with the company’s mission to build communities where active and former military personnel can share their experiences, advance their careers, and promote awareness of veteran matters to colleagues and customers.

Rather than use storytelling to pitch to sales executives or the end-user, TD Bank collaborated with employees in customer-facing roles so consumers could relate to the company they do business in a meaningful way.

Huckberry

Huckberry is an eCommerce company selling outdoor gear with a community of over 1 million active and adventurous consumers.

To promote its products, the company shares the stories of brand ambassadors on its blog. In one such story, ambassador Ben O’Meara wore Huckberry’s “72-Hour Merino Tee” for exactly 72 hours as he traveled across the Canadian wilderness by car and canoe.

O’ Meara camped in the beautiful Canadian wilderness and spent his time making photographs punctuated with visits to different breweries. This was the sort of vacation that is extremely attractive to Huckberry’s core audience of adventure lovers. While the company likely sold a fair few merino shirts as a result of the initiative, perhaps the greater value came from the opportunity to strengthen the relationship with its community through stories underpinned by shared values and experiences.

Key takeaways:

  • Every action performed by a business has an underlying narrative, whether those actions be related to the brand, customers, advocates, employees, or stakeholders.
  • Formula 1 released a behind-the-scenes documentary series after it realized the winner and loser narrative in each race was tired and one-dimensional. The series gave more context to the stories behind the sport, which increased engagement and viewership.
  • Patagonia tells brand stories that appear to be counterintuitive to making a profit. However, it uses storytelling to attract consumers who share its strict environmental stance. TD Bank and Huckberry also used storytelling to align with their respective military and adventure-driven missions.

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Connected Business Concepts

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Grassroots marketing involves a brand creating highly targeted content for a particular niche or audience. When an organization engages in grassroots marketing, it focuses on a small group of people with the hope that its marketing message is shared with a progressively larger audience.
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Writing a copy is the art of crafting catchy texts to persuade a particular demographic. “A copy” is the written content aimed at converting impressions to clicks and converting clicks to high sales. Any form of writing that persuasively requests an action from your audience is called copywriting.
buzz-marketing
Buzz marketing leverages the power of word-of-mouth advertising to create products or services with enough novelty that they go viral. In many cases, buzz marketing leverages on versatile content that can easily scale and be readapted to various contexts and fear of missing out (FOMO) to amplify the effect of word-of-mouth campaigns.
inbound-marketing
Inbound marketing is a marketing strategy designed to attract customers to a brand with content and experiences that they derive value from. Inbound marketing utilizes blogs, events, SEO, and social media to create brand awareness and attract targeted consumers. By attracting or “drawing in” a targeted audience, inbound marketing differs from outbound marketing which actively pushes a brand onto consumers who may have no interest in what is being offered.
binge-watching
Binge-watching is the practice of watching TV series all at once. In a speech at the Edinburgh Television Festival in 2013, Kevin Spacey said: “If they want to binge then we should let them binge.” This new content format would be popularized by Netflix, launching its TV series all at once.
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