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Brand story: how to use, where to apply and who to look at


Building a brand story is not about torturing your copywriter for months to print a brochure once in a while. This is a tool that gives you above all lots of opportunities. Let’s figure out which ones exactly and why.

The Science of Storytelling

Brand stories may be different (sometimes even a scent may play a part in it), but it is still the easiest way to convey your story.

A brand story in Ukraine can work not only at the marketing level but literally affect sales. The Origin and Hill Holiday has shown that people spend more on any product, from hotel rooms to paintings, if their promo is based on a story. Meanwhile, the 2014 study by a neuroeconomist Paul Zak proves that stories with a character convince people to donate 56% more money to charity.

Why is it worth creating a storytelling campaign? Well, the answer is biology. A good story forces the brain to command the body to produce cortisol or oxytocin, depending on the mood of the story, the type of media and the format. For instance, videos cause “emotional contagion”, the effect of mirroring emotions from the screen.

How to create a brand story?

Storytelling in Ukraine is, first of all, the process of building a strong story that is available for understanding and perception of your consumer. Examples:

  • a hero brand (a data protection program guards a small company against cyber attacks);
  • a caregiver (comfortable sneakers helped me run to the finish line);
  • a story about brand creators, its origin and so on.

How does one build a brand story? With the help of a famous playwrights’ paradigm – the Freytag pyramid. The 2014 John Hopkins Study contains an analysis of popular adverts dedicated to the Super Bowl. And his conclusion: the most popular ads were built according to this structure.

So build your stories upon this dramatic arch and add a solution in the end – your product or service.

Formats that may suit you:

  • problem & solution;
  • before & after;
  • educational videos;
  • success stories.

A useful tip: brand stories look good on the product packaging. Read our article on packaging design and storytelling to stand out on the store shelf.

5 characteristics of a catchy brand story

It is significant.

How much content is released every day and how much of it does really benefit brands? Companies create content that is not interesting to consumers. Every piece of your story should be useful and meaningful to your client. Ask yourself: what do I want to say to my audience? Why is it important to them? What do people need to remember?

It is personal.

If you want to achieve something with your story, it must be relevant to the life of your audience. This is important not only to arouse interest but also to involve people in the story. If there is no room for them, this is not your audience.

It is emotional.

Creating storytelling for packaging and advertising is all about emotions and empathy. Yes, your program automates the email, but it also makes life easier and gives your client an extra half an hour for a quiet breakfast at home. Place an emotional hook – an intriguing question, a personal story, convincing statistics – in the first seconds of your video or in the first paragraph of the text, and you will succeed.

It is simple.

One of the most common mistakes in storytelling is being “too much”. It is better to make one simple emotional story than to dump a bag of tales on the audience and hope something catches on. Focus on one problem at a time unless you want to confuse the viewer.

It is real.

Share only your stories. Be an open, honest and transparent brand. Maintain your identity in every media and format, in order not only to differ from others but also to inspire trust.

… and many examples of how to tell a brand story

If you don’t know where to start, do not worry. From a sincere email marketing campaign to unique multimedia tools – we’ve got lots of successful cases from big and small brands.

Show transparency

Brand: Zendesk.

How are they doing it: using the “People” page.

Zendesk was tired of tons of identical pages telling about “creative teams”. So they initiated the creation of the Diversity & Inclusion section under the “People First” slogan, in order to demonstrate to the world how much their company cares about people.

Zendesk chose the path of full transparency in hiring employees, building a team and supporting poorly represented social groups. The company even works with data analysis and visualizes its results to show gender and ethnic diversity in the team. Thus their desire for equality has become a part of their brand story.

Ask the right question

Brand: Tank Garage Winery

How are they doing it: through the modal pop-ups.

There are so many tools to grab the attention of a site visitor, and yet lots of brands use a hackneyed widget “How can I help you?” on pop-ups and contact pages. Tank Garage Winery changes the rules of the game by asking guests of their website “What is the coolest adventure you’ve experienced?”.

Even though it is a bit spontaneous question, it is a great introduction to the brand story and a perfect way to create a personal relationship with a single click.

Make pros out of your cons

Brand: Harmless Harvest

How are they doing it: through honest advertising.

The main goal of Harmless Harvest is to produce healthy food and drinks that benefit everyone: consumers, producers, the environment. And here comes the pitfall: the high price of the product. Nevertheless, instead of writing it down to their disadvantages, they only emphasize this fact in their advertising, stating that price is a true reflection of the company’s values.

Turn boring things into fun

Brand: Native

How are they doing it: via funny emails to confirm the purchase.

Usually, when you place an order on the website, you get an email with information about the product, shipping details, and blah blah blah. But Native, a brand of natural deodorants, transformed their order confirmation email into a funny story involving their employees.

Such a creative move makes you immediately fall in love with the character of the brand and proves that even the most ordinary things can be included in the development of the brand story.

Customize content with the help of your clients

Brand: Adidas

How are they doing it: through a personalized video.

Adidas helps people enjoy a sporting lifestyle. In 2018, the company reached a new level by creating the project Here To Create Legend. Development of the brand story was held in partnership with This Is Grow. The project is dedicated to the Boston Marathon and its 30 thousand participants. For each athlete, Adidas has made “an epic, personalized highlight film, delivered within hours of crossing the finish line”.

Keep talking

Brand: LetGo

How are they doing it: telling the story of what happens after the purchase.

LetGo is an application that helps buy and sell used stuff. They take the “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” philosophy and tell what happens to the item after the purchase. From beautiful home decor to unique clothing, their Instagram account is a demonstration of how things sold through their app change people’s lives. A great way to combine brand history with user reviews.

Play on cultural features

Brand: Bacardi

How are they doing it: the documentary about rum and Caribbean culture.

Strong brands are the products that could easily fit into the lifestyle. For Bacardi, rum is a part of the Caribbean culture, so their storytelling focuses on festivals and music. Their 4-parts documentary Sound of Rum is a deep dive into the roots of Caribbean music history. A unique way to create a direct connection with the audience and support cultural heritage.

Tell the audience about important things

Brand: Häagen-Dazs

How are they doing it: a full immersion into the story.

We have heard for years that VR will become the main storytelling format, and tech brands would be the first to do this. Then you will be quite surprised by the ice cream brand Häagen-Dazs.

Some kinds of their ice cream are made with honey, and therefore the company is particularly concerned about the survival of bee colonies. Thus the brand invests in research and increases the awareness of the audience through the development of the brand’s history in the format of VR storytelling. From their story, you will learn about the dreadful condition of honeybee colonies, how their problems affect people and what can be done to save them.

Turn branding into art

Brand: Supreme

How are they doing it: through a series of short commercials.

Supreme is a skateboarder brand that often makes creative, explosive and artistic storytelling. An example is their simple “random videos” that immerse the viewer in the world of Supreme. They look like art installations and blur the boundaries of brand content and media art.

Show your values

Brand: Suavecito

How are they doing it: through the details.

Suavecito is a cosmetic brand that just like Bacardi is firmly based on lifestyle: their custom cars, motorcycles, tattoos, and barber culture cover the whole country.

The company’s love of details has a great impact on its content. For example, they invited a local calligrapher to draw a logo on their flagship store and captured it in a detailed time-lapse video.

Educate the audience

Brand: Visa

How are they doing it: through educational videos.

Showing how the product works and how to use it is crucial information for your customers. Most often, brands create dry and characterless video instructions. But Visa goes far beyond that.

Using mixed formats, motion graphics, quilling, stop motion and other techniques, they turned ordinary instructions into a part of their brand – vivid, creative and informative videos.

Build a community

Brand: Tito’s Vodka

How are they doing it: through partnership and Instagram.

For the past 20 years, animal rescue has been a major project for Tito’s Handmade Vodka. They are committed to improving the lives of dogs around the world through the Vodka for Dogs partnership with the Emancipet organization, which provides insurance services and veterinary assistance to pet owners.

They sell products under the Tito brand, whose earnings go to Emancipet. Plus, they cultivate a cohesive Instagram community that celebrates stories of dogs and people around the world. Their account is mostly inspirational photos of dogs, each including a Tito product and a personal story.

Demonstrate the capabilities of your product

Brand: Play-Doh

How are they doing it: through training videos.

Play-Doh is a product designed to help children express their creativity and gain new skills. They developed a series of videos that help parents and teachers use their products for educational purposes.

For example, a simple DIY project shows how to create a solar system, helping combine education and entertainment in a fun and creative way.

Let’s make your brand alive!

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