storytelling for brands

Storytelling For Brands

In a world where storytelling for brands is the hot topic…

In a world where summer blockbusters are all the rage…

In a world where people pay billions to be entertained…

In a world where one voice that ruled them all..

Don LaFontaine, was that voice, until his death in 2008.

If you were born before 2002, you most likely heard LaFontaine’s booming baritone voice introducing another action packed film.

His most famous introduction  was the line, “In a world…”

Yet it wasn’t his voice that made movie studios pay him millions over his career to narrate their trailers. There were just as talented and unique voices doing trailers before and after LaFontaine.

So what about his voice made people feel as if something special was going to happen?

It was because he had narrated the movie trailer to last year’s blockbuster.

When people heard his voice it reminded them of the last movie. The movie they stood in line for, paid $15 a ticket for, paid way too much for a tub of popcorn for, and loved every minute of it.

Storytelling for brands is not about telling a new story, it is about reminding people of the story they already enjoy. It is our job to always be telling stories that are tied to the right emotion. So when people hear our brand’s voice, they smile and say to themselves they want to experience that all over again.

So how do we do it, without having a multi-million dollar movie studio budget?

Simple, any storytelling for a brand should follow the same formula as the most popular movies ever. That method is the the Hero’s Journey

I. Your Customer Is Always The Hero

The single biggest mistake most brands make with storytelling is getting this wrong. Brands love to believe they are to play the part of the hero. That is not the case. Not at least if you are trying to win over more people.

The hero appears on the scene and we relate with her, because we can see ourselves in their situation.

Harry Potter as an awkward pre-teen, not fitting in with his own family.

Katniss Everdeen, who just wants to live a simple life in District 12.

Rose Bukater, on the Titanic, about to live a life that someone else wants for her.

These are the real heroes of the story.

Trying to make our product or service the hero is the exact opposite of what people are looking for in our storytelling. No one really cares about our soap, marketing firm, mattress, or financial advisory, unless it fits in their own story.

People have themselves placed in those roles. While it is possible to win over people who are looking to have someone else be the hero, it is going to be slow and expensive to do. Why? Those types of people already have picked someone to look to as their hero.

Imagine how hard it would be to change a dedicated Trump supporter over to a new candidate. Trump, to thee people, is their hero. They ceded to him their hopes and dreams. It is going to take a lot of effort to have any of those people to have the same devotion to another.

But here’s the thing…

You don’t need those types of people.

You want the people who want to be their own hero. Those are the types of people looking for someone new. Someone different. Someone to guide them to their new destiny in their hero story.

Their looking for you.

II. You Are The Guide

Katniss has her Haymitch to guide her through the Hunger Games.

Harry Potter has Dumbledore to make sense of what Voldermort is all about.

Luke Skywalker, has Yoda to teach him to use the Force.

Every great story has the guide. The one who has been through their own similar journey, succeeded, and is willing to help the hero.

That is what storytelling for a brand SHOULD be about. How our brand can help our customer get from the misery of their current situation to ultimate victory.

It is fie to tell the story of how you came into being. Where you started, what you have achieved. However, it needs to be in the context of presenting you as the trusted guide. If you get this part right you will attract the right people to your brand. The ones who are unsatisfied with their current situation and are willing to let you be their guide to a better life.

If they are looking for someone else to be the hero in their story, they probably already have one. More so, even if you do convince them to switch and choose you as their new, better hero, you can bet they are likely to switch again. As soon as the next book, commercial, social media post, or video comes out from the next hero to follow, you will be left in the dust.

Give up trying to be the hero brand. Be the guide to heroes. It is more fun, more profitable, and more secure.

III. Your Storytelling Must Have Risk of Failure

Any storytelling you are doing for your brand cannot be all about nice things. If there is no enemy or risk of defeat, there really is no compelling story.

We want to call out to the people looking for a guide. Because those are the ones looking for our help. No one else matters, as discussed previously.

The final piece of doing this as part a storytelling brand campaign, is to let it be known there are risks involved. This again will weed out the ones who are too afraid to step up and ask for our help. We don’t want them coming to our call if they are willing to accept doing nothing.

We only want those who see themselves as heroic, who are looking for a guide, and are willing to take come along for the adventure. The adventure which is in our offer to guide them.

You must scare them into in action. If Katniss does not fight as she is supposed to, not only will he die, those she loves will die. If Luke does not learn to use the Force, the Death Star will destroy planets. If Rose does not go with Jack, she will never know true love for the rest of her life.

You must see your brand as a blockbuster. One that, positioned properly, will have the people who will become your biggest fans lined up to take part.


I want to wrap up by saying that none of this should feel like you are manipulating your market. These are the natural stories people already tell themselves. The stories that define how we all see life.

I believe that if you do it any other way, then you are involved in manipulation. It is trying to stop the natural course of thought we use and placing something else in the way. There is a reason more people are interested in developing a storytelling brand. It makes sense, it feels natural, it feels like something you are doing every day.

When your market hears your voice, they should respond jut like people did for years to Don LaFontaine’s voice. So let me conclude with this quote for you to finish, “In a world, where people are looking for a hero, it is your mission to guide them to the truth. They are the ones they have been looking for all along.”

Now, it is your turn to create your own blockbuster.


If you enjoyed this article with my take on developing a storytelling brand, please share it with others you think may like it too. Thanks.

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