Branding Is Like Storytelling

Published by MBA Skool Team, Published on May 18, 2012

“If this business were spilt, I’d give away all assets to keep the Brand; and I’d fare better” – John Stewart

Above line clearly states that what is the value of a brand in eyes of a real marketer? A brand is not only the perceived added value that a company or product has, it also defines loyal of customers in preferences.

The brand is actually a perception of customer and an image in competitor’s eyes. Below article will take you through a different direction of branding, which will explain that branding is a kind of storytelling. To enlighten my point, I have taken examples of some large organizations.

Branding is like storytelling

The word "brand", as a noun, can refer to a product, for example Nokia, mobile phones first comes in our mind, a service with which are happy, a company name, or a unique identifier such as a logo or trademark. But, in modern concept of branding grew out of the packaged goods industry, product and the process of branding has come to include much, much more than just creating a way to identify a product or company.

Branding today is used to create emotional attachment to products and companies. Branding efforts create a feeling of involvement, an engagement, a sense of higher quality, and an aura of tangible qualities but majorly intangible qualities that surround the brand name, logo, or symbol.

Now going towards the emotional quotient, a strong brand is a amalgamation of facts and emotions. Customers rationalize and legitimize with the brains, but buy with the hearts, are it shampoos, insurance, shares or infrastructure. The product has to be up to scratch in order for customers to rationalize their choice, but it is the heart and not the head doing the persuading when customer buys expensive products or buys Tata salt instead of ordinary table salt.

Stories are playing vital role in making of the brands in adding emotional quotient. They are powerful and add emotional glue that connects the storyteller with his audience (customer). Stories tap into not only our minds, but also our hearts.

Brands are embracing stories. They need to find their inner brand stories and manifest them in ways that are so engaging, valuable, and entertaining that audiences want to tell their friends.

“Great and touching stories spread and those who tell the best stories WIN.”

Any discussion of ‘great’ brands in marketing today pretty quickly comes to the case of Apple. All over the world, marketers are huddled in conference rooms discussing what they can do to be more like Apple. But the brutal truth is that Apple, like other great brands, has something to tell to audience. No other marketer will be able to emulate, because it comes from something deep inside – and you’ve either got it, or you haven’t. Everyone would have heard the Steve Jobs’ speech at Stanford University, such a heart touching story; a great organization that started from a garage.


Let’s go through some of the famous examples.

“The TCS Story . . . and Beyond” written by Ramadorai retired as CEO& MD of TCS. It is a fascinating book that recounts the steps to the extraordinary success of S. Ramadorai. The story associates us more with the leader and TCS, and makes its brand huge success which in turn increases the market positioning “share of heart”.


“The Facebook Effect” the inside story of the company that is connecting the world. It’s not about Facebook Strategy – it’s about Facebook history. How Mark Zuckerberg and his college buds in their dorm room programming and bringing Facebook to life. Reader will find your mouth gaping open as he realizes that Zuckerberg wasn’t in this for money or fame or fashion, but for a dream and a vision of doing something really BIG. I think all Gen G, will be on facebook, would have read the book, and love the book and Zukerberg. Infact all must have seen The Social Network. The book and the movie have given it huge success and now it is the main target of organizations for social networking and branding.

Infact Infosys has an amazing story about huge struggle, crisis and how they grow with a mix of a love story. It just not inspires us but also make Infosys a strong brand in India.

Similarly Fedex made us believe that success requires a rare collusion of actions with propitious external factors. The reasons for success are hence not as linear and easy to identify as those for failure.

KFC also has a great story which links past dots together for future. Colonel Sanders left his home in Kentucky and traveled to many states in the US to sell his idea. He told the restaurant owners that he had a chicken recipe that people liked but he got around 1000 rejections He didn’t give up and prove that age and capital is no barrier to success you just need an idea put into action.


Starbucks coffee is a coffee of a passionate, visionary leader who went on to revolutionize coffee retailing in the US and is rapidly taking Starbucks worldwide. Howard Schultz, he carefully nurtured an inspiring identity for the company in the hearts and minds of employees. As the company grew by 1997 to more than 1,300 stores and 25,000 partners, it became impossible for Schultz to reach everyone in person. So he compiled his stories into an inspiring book entitled Pour Your Heart into It. These are the stories of success, stories of culture, how the relationship with the employees can be made strong and stronger. It contains Starbucks experience to show that the customers are integral part of the company.

There are many success stories such as McDonald’s, IBM, Bislery, GE, Motorola many more, how can we forget Bill Gates and Microsoft. They all have some stories associated with them which gave them loyal employees, customers, Branding and high Brand recall.

At its very core, marketing is also storytelling. To touch customers deeply brands are also coming with advertisement which has stories. The best advertising campaigns take us on an emotional journey--appealing to our wants, needs and desires--while at the same time telling us about a product or service. A brand's story comes from the company's own information, and if successful, it is accepted and integrated into the consumer's story. Organizations understands how their brands emotionally resonates with customers and then position their message in the right place to tell the right story at just the right time.

Sometime branding comes with highlighting the inner self of the product that is attributes and now-a-days touching the deep inside of the customer works. For example recall the advertisement of Dove, they have taken normal looking girls, so that we can associate to them and try that product.

Companies Apple, Starbucks, Airtel, Cadbury and many more have been able to grow their brand image by engaging in storytelling associated with its core brand identity.

We can say every brand has a story to tell. Some are inspirational; some are emotional while others are tragic. Building a brand is like telling a great story.

”Great storytellers can make you cry while branding experts can make you buy.”

This article has been authored by Anshika Srivastava from IMI Delhi.

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