Storytelling in business

Why a good story should be the spine of your marketing strategy

25/01/2018 14:09:56
January 27th to February 3rd is National Storytelling Week in the UK – so gather round, everyone, and we’ll tell you all about how we do it. Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin…
At Partners, we love a story. Whether we’re curling up with a favourite book, reading aloud to our kids, or catching up with the latest film or TV drama, we’re at our happiest when we’re wrapped up in words.

But stories shouldn’t be limited to the fictional or the fantastic. In fact, harnessing the power of storytelling can help brands to talk about themselves in an engaging and authentic way – and this might just be our favourite kind of storytelling of all.

What's your story?

So, what are the fundamentals of storytelling for brands?



Even for B2B businesses, a relentlessly corporate brand image can be hard for an audience to relate to. It doesn’t pay to pretend to be something you’re not: customers may be encouraged by a business projecting an efficient and professional appearance in all its communications, but they’ll be reassured to see its human side, too.

Consider your ‘brand personality’. What are your company values? How does each member of your team contribute to the business’s skill set? What would you like the business to achieve in the future? How do you demonstrate that you genuinely care about your customers’ happiness and satisfaction? And how can you communicate all of this to your target audience in a way that sounds… well, like you?

Whether you’re writing web copy, sourcing client testimonials or planning an industry event, remember: customers don’t just buy your products or services; they cast a vote of confidence in your people and your organisation, and the purpose of your communications is to encourage them to give that vote to you.



Once you’ve established the elements of your brand personality, it’s time to incorporate these into your business’s narrative. Every brand has a backstory, and every backstory goes a long way towards explaining why your products and services exist and what sets them apart.

A great example of brand narrative comes from Scottish beer mavens Brewdog. Founded by two twenty-somethings with a bank loan and a disdain for the corporate nature of the brewing industry, they taught themselves the fundamentals of brewing and business management to create innovative products which successfully disrupted the UK beer market. This narrative underpins their marketing, business strategy and product development, making them instantly recognisable and dependable.

Businesses and initiatives don’t spring fully-formed from nowhere; they’re started by people with intelligence and passion and a drive to make things better, and that’s the narrative that your marketing should convey.


The golden rule of story-led marketing is ‘connect’: find a way to speak to people that resonates with them on a level deeper than a product or service. Do your research - “What’s my target audience thinking? What are their needs, aims, fears?” – then drill down from that point to uncover the feelings underpinning those findings.

The sentiment underlying “I’m looking for some new accounting software” may be “Doing the accounts is the most stressful part of running a small business”; behind “It’s time to redecorate my office” might be “I’m worried my workspace gives visitors the wrong impression about my business.”. It’s on this level that storytelling aims to speak to customers: whether your message is “Relax, we’ll take this job off your hands” or “Tell us what you need, and we’ll create the perfect product spec for you”, it will resonate on a much deeper level than the dry dependability of “our products and services will benefit your business.”


Think back to childhood: reading books at bedtime, making up stories and games in the playground, and letting your mind run away with you as you imagined scenarios and events far beyond the scope of your own life.

What’s the greatest thing about marketing? It’s an opportunity to use your imagination.

What’s the greatest thing about your imagination? Its possibilities are limitless.

Marketing doesn’t have to be straightforward, didactic, loud or pushy to make an impact; a good story’s all you need. Consider John Lewis’ annual Christmas campaigns. Each year they stimulate the viewer’s imagination in a different way to inspire emotion and empathy – and we can always see how they relate back to the brand at their heart.

Be bold with your marketing choices: create parallel narratives, draw comparisons, take your audience on a journey and invite them to make their own links between what you offer and how you’re choosing to communicate it. Make your story dynamic and interactive so your audience can choose their own adventure; empower them to choose you over your competitors, then compel them to keep choosing you in the future. Harness the power of storytelling, and reap the rewards.

Would you like us to help your business tell its story? 

Keen to see how storytelling works in PR and marketing? 

Contact us today