Telling Great Stories

June 11, 2014

Just like catching a cold, stories are viral.

We all get them. We’ve been storytellers through the ages. Stories are how we transferred knowledge, and how we made sure that important information was passed along for many future generations to come.

They’re contagious. Stories are easily spread just through our normal day-to-day contact.

They hit us at a very deep level. The details may change over repeated tellings, but with a good story, the core message remains the same.

Some even say it’s in our DNA to tell stories, and that our brains are hard-wired for storytelling. Studies have shown that the more senses we can engage in a presentation or telling of a story, the more we will remember it.  

That’s true in our day-to-day lives, too. The more an experience affects our senses, the more memorable it is. Think about taking a walk. When you can hear the crunch of autumn leaves underfoot, when you can smell the delicious aroma from someone’s coffee cup as you pass them by, when you feel the warmth of the sun on your face… you really hang onto the memory.

The three most common senses we use are:

  • Visual—what you can see
  • Auditory—what you can hear
  • Kinesthetic—the movement you feel 

The more you can engage these senses in a story, the better the user will remember it and be more likely to spread it.

At B’stro, we understand the power of good storytelling for your brand.  At a core level, that’s what marketing is all about—telling a story about your product or service so that it will really stick with your customer, and your message will ring true on a very deep level.

What makes a good story?

But, we all know some brands that talk a good talk about their “story” but don’t really seem to grab us with their marketing efforts. Ads can fall flat when the message feels false, or the communication seems staged, or it sounds like the brand is just rehashing all the reasons they want you to buy whatever they’re selling without giving you a good hook into the meat of the story.

What makes a good story? Think about one of your favorite movies. The best ones follow a few important rules:  

  1. Great stories ask us to suspend disbelief and ask, “What if?”
  2. Great stories are about change and transformation
  3. Great stories show the human side of who we are, as individuals and, collectively, as a group
  4. Great stories show us about choices and the consequences of those choices

Famed academic and storyteller Joseph Campbell talked about all this and more when he explained the value of myth in our culture, and the importance of the “Hero’s Journey. Great stories take us on journeys that we become immersed in, that we believe in and that transform us in some significant way.

Can we do this for brands? You betcha.

When the Institute of Gender and Health (IGH), part of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, expanded its mission to become more than just a funding institute, they sought BSTRO’s help getting the word out.

Likewise, when the Swedish football club Kristianstads DFF decided to become the first Swedish athletic organization to pledge support for Athlete Ally, an organization that seeks to end homophobia and transphobia in sports, they selected B’stro as their creative partner to help them share their message with their country and the world.

So, what’s your brand’s story? Are you telling it well? If you’re ready to start your journey now, we can help. Give us a call.

Now, let us show you some of our favorite examples of brand storytelling:

Lise Rubarth
Program Director