A group around a campfire
A group around a campfire

Storytelling is Vital to Your Business, Don’t Let a Weak Story Ruin Your Brand

Paul Kiernan

No matter how big your business or brand is, there is a story to be told about it, and people remember stories.

Almost everyone has a story about the place where they grew up. The people, the schools, the places they played, where they met friends, etc., etc. In those stories, there are probably a few about a business that had been there forever. Or about the kindly store owner, the Mom and Pop grocery, the first fast food joint that showed up. Homespun stories about remembering when.

Those stories are a living history of our lives, and more importantly, those are the stories of business.

If you look at the old stories of the corner shop and laugh, think they are out of date, or that your business is too big or powerful to tell stories, then you’re missing a crucial part of your marketing and advertising campaign.

No matter how big your business or brand is, there is a story to be told about it, and people remember stories.

Telling Stories

Telling stories is a mighty business tool; every brand seeking to get stronger must understand and master it.

Before the internet, before the evening news, there was always someone somewhere standing up in front of the fire and telling a story. Stories were how we learned about dangers and possibilities. Stories are how we keep generations of family in our memory. And stories are the backbone of any good business plan. The fire has changed to laptops and smartphones, but the effect is the same, tell a good story, and it will stay in the minds of the masses.

Businesses and brands that feel storytelling is too old-fashioned or are above telling the story of their beginnings are missing a valuable tool for their marketing kit. Storytelling is still a significant part of our day-to-day lives. We have a billion and two streaming networks to pick from, and they are all filled with stories.

When done well, with thought, care, and honesty, a story can majorly impact a business. A good story can turn a brand into a legacy, create an incredible marketing strategy, win an audience, pump brand loyalty, and more.

A well-told story conveys purpose, and a company with a strong purpose stands out and lasts longer than those with no story or who do not pay the kind of attention a story needs to be told right.

But telling your story has to be approached with honesty and a willingness to risk. If you spin a tale just to make your business sound good or add some spice to your brand, the public will see through it, which will kill you. You need to be honest when telling your story, always.


a dwarf rabbit

To tell a good story, you first have to learn to listen. When working with a new client or a possible client, you want to get them talking about themselves, and you want them to tell you as much of their story as possible. Only when you learn how to listen to the stories of others can you understand how to tell your story. Work on listening, and then you will be able to tell better stories, not just your own but also those of your clients.

When you listen to a client tell their story, you’ll often hear things they pass over very quickly because they judge those moments as not essential or having no impact on their business. Your job as their storyteller is to pull out the minutia and give it the importance it deserves. The story of how a brand started is vital, but often they don’t understand what elements make for the best story.

By now, we all know the story of how Apple started in a garage. That has become an industry standard, a couple of guys in mom and dad’s garage dreaming big and making it big. Would the story of the rise of Apple be as compelling if the storyteller said it started at some guy's home? No, the detail of the garage is a detail that makes their story not only unique but somehow relatable. They weren’t scientists in a massive lab with government funding; they were guys in the garage. We all have a garage.

When you listen to stories being told, you must listen beyond and beneath the words being said. What is being left out? What is being skipped over because the storyteller has judged those details unimportant?

The good storyteller is first a good listener. They remove themselves from the equation and listen. Be a good listener, and you’ll be a better storyteller.

The Benefits of a Good Story

A good story is, well, good; people listen, learn, and are entertained, and most important of all, a good story is remembered. People learn better and retain more when they are told a story. The better the story, the more people remember. Tell a bad, poorly constructed story or one with no purpose, and you can do damage.

Take the story of your business or brand seriously. Storytelling may sound juvenile or trite, but think of how many stories you hear in a day and how many of those you share with others. That’s the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the impact of a good story.

A clearly communicated story is your brand’s marketing backbone

Across the board, every business has a story to tell. However, some don’t know how best to tell this story, or they fail to tell their story in a way that’s clear, relevant, or captivating. These three traits in storytelling, clarity, relevance, and captivation, are all parts of what makes a story compelling. An effective story is a powerful story.

Some people start a brand with grand ideas of what it should communicate to the public. They have dreams and visions of what their brand should say to the public. Still, when it comes to clearly communicating those dreams and visions on social and other online channels, they become ambiguous, convoluted, and ineffective. They are scattered and unsure because they don’t know how to tell their story.

Your business should invest in telling a straightforward story. A well-told story creates a blueprint for how to organize content. Without this blueprint, your content will feel scattered and lacking in purpose.

When you create your brand’s marketing strategy under a good story, all content created will support the story and feed upward to support the brand’s overreaching vision. The story is the cornerstone for all content messaging and marketing, so everything feels organized and serves the main purpose.

A brand story also helps to simplify a brand vision and easily convey the purpose of the brand or business to those outside the brainstorming session.

It’s a given that having a purpose and clear values can sell a business, but to do that, you need to be telling the story clearly. You need to craft your story in a compelling, personal, universal, and captivating way.

Honest Storytelling is Human

Two older me standing on a bridge having a conversation.

In a technological age, it is easy to forget that there are people behind great new inventions. But innovative businesses and brands know that the human side of their business is sometimes the most appealing.

Famous companies like Apple have deeply meaningful stories tied to their founders. Would Apple be Apple without the story of Jobs and Wozniak in a garage? The garage is the human side, the we’re just guys going after what we believe, no matter what the big boys say. These types of human stories signal that the company is so much more than the products or services they sell. Their stories tell us about visionaries who were out to change the world.

Interestingly, Apple has ranked among the top ten most empathetic companies according to the Global Empathy Index. They are profitable and fast growing. Their empathy scale is part of the story that makes them feel human. People would rather invest in a human than a company. It behooves any business to create messaging that humanizes them, and the best way to do that is by telling a story that focuses on their human side.

A Competitive Edge

The world is full of noise, and a great deal of that noise comes from content daily generated and pumped through online venues. It’s loud, repetitive, and sometimes pointless. But that doesn’t stop it, and every day, tens of millions of bits of content are showered down on the public. This means your audience is saturated, frustrated, confused, and wandering.

What intelligent businesses understand is that all this confusion is steeped in emotions. You can have the best product or service on the planet, but if you're not connecting to your audience emotionally, you may not be in the mix at the end of the day.

However, with the ability to tell a good story, an emotional connection is easier to achieve. Smart, clear, emotionally compelling stories will capture and keep an audience and build brand loyalty more than just a good product and service. Innovative brands invest in their storytelling. They understand the power. Telling the right story the right way gives your business and brand an edge in a crowded, crowing market.

Emotions Connect Us

Because storytelling is so primal, it connects us. From original stories about where the best hunting is, the best berries and grains are, to selling smartphones or cable TV, a good story has a purpose.

A good story makes us think, feel, and understand the world. Connect us to each other through shared values and needs. A good story is a human story that will impact and stay with people longer than numbers, data, slide presentations, and industry white papers.

Emotions connect us. We often say I know how you feel; I understand what you’re going through. These are emotional, not intellectual, connections.

Businesses are wise to tell their stories transparently. Share the failures along with the successes. Share the stumbles alongside the triumphs because those are human and emotional. People are more likely to connect on an emotional level with a brand if the brand’s story is human, real, relatable, and honest. That emotional connection that comes from a story well told will create brand loyalty.

You can discuss pain points til the cows come home; however, if your story isn’t clear, compelling, emotionally connected, and true, you’ll never reach the level of those visionaries who told the story that put them at the top.

Don’t Skimp on Your Story

an open journal with blank pages

It’s evident that the story you tell can make or break your business. One misstep in your story and your brand can go from positive and growing to obsolete and forgotten.

Your company or brand is never too big or powerful to ignore storytelling. It will bite you in the ass wholly and quickly.

Storytelling is vital, but it’s not easy. A brand can easily lose its foundation with a lousy story, just as a nobody brand can become a household name with a well-crafted story.

There is no shame in understanding that your storytelling skills need help. There is shame and possible ruin in not admitting you have storytelling problems but ignoring them. Don’t take your company or brand story lightly. If you cannot write your story or need help shaping and giving it strength, talk to the master storytellers at ThoughtLab.

With well over two decades of authentic human storytelling experience, we can help you tell your story, fine-tune one you’ve been working on, or start you from scratch with a brand story that will put you above the noise and see further than you ever imagined. Contact ThoughtLab and get your story told right.