Stone Age Storytelling: Why Your Brand Needs to Tell Stories

Eric Groves

By Eric Groves

02/15/2017

Deep in the rolling hills of France, there’s an ornate etching on a cave wall. It’s called the Chauvet Cave painting, and apparently, it’s the oldest cave painting on record. It is quite literally as old as dirt! If you’ve never seen it before, it’s just a drawing of some horses. Some say it’s the first instance of communication and the early signs of storytelling. While it’s no Seabiscuit, it does give the idea that we’ve been attracted to painting a picture for someone else, literally or figuratively, and telling stories for a very long time.

But what does any of this have to do with branding?

Our brains are wired to be interested in storytelling— even if it’s just an image of a horse running on a cave wall. Although that’s a pretty boring story, the caveman probably didn’t have House of Cards or Stranger Things to compete with. Unless you believe in ancient aliens, in which case…maybe he did.  

The point is, whether it’s catching up with an old friend, weaving a fictional tale to a small child, or painting a picture of a horse on the cave wall for your beautiful, toothless cave wife, storytelling is the best way we humans share thoughts with each other. And yet, sometimes brands don’t do it.

When we see instances of ads that lack storytelling in the marketplace, a piece of our soul shrivels up inside and dies because we know a brand has missed an opportunity to stand out and connect with its audience.

You know the type of lackluster advertising we’re talking about. It’s the kind you tune out. The kind that you’re already numb to. Instead of crafting a tale that sucks you in, the brands that partake in this type of marketing are satisfied by simply dispersing information. This form of advertising leaves customers with a dry, dull description that they might remember for a few seconds at best before your ad floats off into the unknown part of your brain filled with other forgotten ads. This quadrant is full of poorly designed flyers, “call now!” billboards, and click-baity gruesomeness. It’s not where you belong.

Getting away from literalism and connecting emotionally in a way that ties back to your brand is the most effective way to spread your message.

If you’re reading this blog and thinking, “Yeah, well this whole thing is a steaming pile of bologna because my brand doesn’t have interesting stories to tell,” we would challenge you to think again. We believe every brand has a story to tell, even if you’ve got a store that only sells beige shirts and your best employee is a monotone robot. (We’re willing to bet your company has a bit more going on than this).

Crafting evocative stories that strategically furthers your branding efforts is no easy task. We know it’s not “so simple that a caveman can do it” (that’s a dig at Geico, remember this campaign?) So here are some examples that incorporate storytelling brilliantly to get your creative juices flowing:

Donor Network:

This video pushes the creative limit with humor and connects emotionally from a somewhat unexpected source. The mere fact that the Donor Network decided to go this route makes this ad memorable:

Barbie:

Your storytelling tactics shouldn’t only rely on humor to connect with your audience. Barbie tells this tale in a creative way while also fighting off bad PR of setting unattainable standards for young girls:

Dance Again:

We would be remiss if we didn’t show you a little work of our own here, too. This story is all about inspiration. And who doesn’t need more of that?

 

Long story short, the best brands on your competitive landscape are crafting customer-attracting tales. If you need a little help when you’re facing that blank cave wall, creative partners like us can help you out. But, to your relief, we probably won’t show up to meetings wearing loin cloths.

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