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.
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.
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.
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 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.
- 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.