Sep 14. 5 min read

The sweet smell of storytelling

What a good story does for business

Your story has different purposes. It aims to inform, educate, inspire. It aims to create awareness, generate revenue and create an experience for your users.  It is the big idea as well as the devil hiding in the details.


Today, most brands need to communicate different aspects in parallel. Authenticity and credibility are perhaps the most important thing brands need to communicate today. It’s not enough to say you are the good guy, you have to demonstrate you are the good guy. You have to talk the talk, but you also have to walk the walk. Consumerism has given birth to savvy consumers who smell bullshit from a mile. Just like fake testimonials don’t work anymore, cliche about pages make people tune out after the first sentence.


Inspiration is a great ingredient for businesses that have the potential to inspire. If you’ve just created an ‘amazing’  software that helps you perform an action that you’re perfectly fine living without, you can hire all the writers from SNL and you still won’t make anyone give a toss. However, there are many brands that actually do have the potential to inspire yet they choose to lull us to sleep instead. For those that head the latter we take the time to write these thoughts.  It’s important to note that successful storytelling is best leveraged for business that actually have something to say, that have a product or service that makes a difference in their customer’s lives. A few brands do a great job with this, while the majority are mired in trying to copy that secret sauce without thinking how it’s relevant to their brand, their offering and their customers.


Culture through content

Culture is the holy grail for brands. Some brands don’t have what it takes to create one, but for those that do, creating a culture through content can yield big-time profit.

This allows brands to generate a bigger conversation, something that transcends the product / service they are pushing and become something more meaningful for your customers.

Culture through content is also highly important when it comes to employee retention / attraction and making them feel that they are part of something meaningful.


Pull vs Push

A lot of content these days is push content. Businesses have their messages, whether it’s 15% off or saying you’re best in class. Businesses identify 2-3 key points they want to push to their customers and they keep doing it until everyone is numb.

This reflects the push marketing philosophy and it’s been a dominant trend in marketing for the past 2 decades, especially with the advent of performance marketing where everything is measured and quantified. You put $x on content z, and you get 3x in sales.That’s the common wisdom and that’s the way things are done.

But truth be told, consumers are getting tired of cliched offerings. Clickbait isn’t working as it used to and companies that are betting their futures only on the low hanging fruit are seeing the cost of customer acquisition constantly grow.

And besides, almost everyone these days offers ways to push your message, drive traffic, generate likes etc…. But only a few, the bold and the brave dare offer you content that intrigues, engages, positions and turns your customers into believers.


So, how do you measure storytelling afterall?

A successful storytelling strategy helps you attain a wide range of internal and external business objectives. It’s not merely a question of likes and shares, tweets and re-tweets.

It’s seeking new KPI’s, developing new tools to gauge engagement and cultivating a sense of confidence that doesn’t only look at numbers but goes with a gut feeling.

The following parameters should be considered when deciding how to evaluate your content strategy and execution.


  1. Relevance
  2. Brand loyalty
  3. Lower cost of customer acquisition
  4. Improve customer & employee retention
  5. Word-of-mouth + free media


Crafting a  story is like composing a beautiful piece of music. However, even after you’ve composed it you still need to conduct the orchestra to play it just right.

Creating a strong content strategy is best broken down to the following components:


  1. Motivations & Positioning

Explore convictions / purpose / what do we aim to achieve with this venture. How do you want to be positioned & perceived

  1. Audience & Competition

Learn what’s being done around. Map content practitioners in the vertical / emotional + practical parameters of your audience

  1. Channels & Composition

Explore your activity on different channels and make sure content is aligned to brand narrative. This includes anything from short copy, blog posts, social media content, your story, micro-copy as well as original content productions

  1. Velocity & Volume

Create a sustainable content plan that is fitted for your organization / types of content / recommended frequency.


Content strategy is your brand strategy

This might be a bold assumption and we are naturally biased. However, with design becoming so uniform and websites looking so similar to each other, the big question that remains, is how can business differentiate itself these days.

We believe that we are entering the golden age of content strategy – just like design led creative processes for the past 20 years, and before that the slogan and jingle did, today with a savvy consumer landscape the only thing business can do is tell a compelling story that touches upon the entire range of their activity and scope.





Some of my clients, past and present.