Once upon a time, marketing was easy… 3 tips for effective modern brand storytelling

Posted 30th January 2019
By Focus7

We’ve been celebrating National Storytelling Week here at Focus7, gathering around the agency hearth to swap tales of the good old days when marketing was easy; when all a brand needed was a single-minded proposition and a reasonable above-the-line spend.

The young firebrands among our team were quick to bring that story bang up-to-date by fiercely advocating the merits of modern brand storytelling. With a potentially confusing plot interweaving themes of brand essence and purpose, differentiation and customer conversation, storytelling in marketing remains impenetrable for some.

So without giving away the ending just yet, let us begin to talk you through Focus7’s top three tips for effective brand storytelling.


1. Seek the truth and you will find your unique narrative

Your unique story already exists. Your most compelling narrative for customers already exists. It’s just a case of digging deep to find them. All the best stories are based on fundamental human truths – so the first step is to strip away the day-to-day distractions and reacquaint yourself with the DNA of your brand.

If you’re a business owner, that might mean taking the time to reflect on:

  • What drove you to set up your company in the first place
  • What now motivates you to get up in the morning
  • What you consider to be your points of pride when it comes to outperforming competitors

These are the sort of questions we debate with clients during our Brand workshops. It leads us to one of the most valuable outputs of the sessions – a strong central narrative that we can use consistently in all customer conversations at all touchpoints. Whether you are blogging, emailing, advertising or talking face-to-face, you can always bring the story back to your most persuasive pitch.

By definition, it will be compelling, competitive and a reflection of you on your best day. Think of it as the key message in the stick of rock that is your brand. All you need to do is add a dash of drama to your stories, which brings us to tip number two.


2. Tell it as a story, and your audience will be enraptured

If you really want to engage your audience of customers, tell them an entertaining story. The advertising industry has been doing it for years. Creative teams are given a proposition to work with, and they dramatise it in an entertaining 30 second TV spot complete with beginning, middle and end. This construction is no accident.

Scientific research has proved that we humans are programmed to be enraptured by stories. When we hear a story, neural activity in the brain increases fivefold. This means that we are much more likely to remember the story and message it is trying to convey. This is why Nike doesn’t create infomercials detailing the merits of its rubber compounds. It tells evocative and empowering tales of individuals testing their own boundaries and being the best that they can be. Just doing it, as it were.


3. Be prepared to share: your customers are part of the brand narrative

Gone are the days when you could ‘control’ your marketing story. One-way messaging has become a two-way dialogue as brands create multidimensional customer experiences. Whether you like it or not, customers and prospects will have their say. It could be a gushing online product review or a critical reposting of your latest LinkedIn article – either way you ignore their voice at your peril.

The visionary brand guru Jonathan Mildenhall, of AirBnb and Coca-Cola fame, puts it this way: “A marketer’s role today is to work hard to influence where the narrative takes place and what attributes the narrative promotes. Marketing’s job is to reach into the community and inspire and amplify.”

In other words, always remember your stick of rock messaging. And use every channel at your disposal to tell stories that communicate it consistently and compellingly. You won’t be able to control your brand narrative absolutely, but you will be the main voice in influencing it positively.


Need some input into the next exciting chapter of your brand? Talk to us about your challenges and how Focus7 could shape a bespoke Brand workshop to get your business fit for the next stage of growth. Call us on 01462 262020 or email

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