The marketing playbook for storytelling

Storytelling is the new marketing. Where storytelling goes beyond online conversations and touches every part of your business, from packaging and distribution to customer care and beyond.

Moving marketing to culture.

Moving from brand-centric to customer-centric. From marketing to customer experience. From head marketing to heart marketing and from story to action. Living the story. It is called culture. Read “Fusion“.

The statistics

  • Stories are 22 times more memorable than facts alone. The most powerful form of brand storytelling is when customers don’t recognise that they are being marketed to.
  • 75% of consumers are more likely to buy from a brand when they’re recognised, remembered, or served with relevant recommendations.
  • 68% of customers gave more business to companies that provided good customer service
  • 67% of consumers believe that a personalised customer service experience is more important than the speed of service
  • 48% of consumers feel the ability to interact in the method or manner of their choice is the most important facet of a personalised customer experience—three times more important than knowing their name/history
  • 39% of customers would rather clean a toilet than seek help from an IVR system.
  • 4 out of 10 consumers switched companies because of poor personalisation costing companies an estimated $756 billion in just one year.
  • The average social media user has accounts on five different channels—and that’s before you take into account the other online and offline touchpoints with your company.


Start with considering every customer touchpoint:

  • What channels do our customers spend time on?
  • Where do they provide feedback or make requests?
  • What are the frequently asked questions about our company versus our competitors?
  • Is the overall sentiment positive, negative, or neutral?
  • What are the top likes, dislikes, and requests about our company versus our competitors?
  • What are the top-performing pages on our website?
  • What google search terms bring in the most traffic to our site?
  • Who are the top influencers and most passionate customers who reach out or talk about our company regularly?

What is the story?

Everything the company does, big or small, tells its story. It is a story of authenticity and caring. Branding isn’t about your logo, the approved colour palette, and cool taglines. Branding is about the stories that your communities create around your mission. Branding is about extraordinary customer service. Branding is about experiences every single person has with your company. And by “every single person,” we mean anyone interacting with your brand: not just your customers but prospects, partners, investors, and employees as well.

Your story is your brand

A brand is the sum of interactions (real and perceived) that a person has with a company across all touchpoints. And brand storytelling is at the core of your brand. Brand storytelling isn’t about creating marketing campaigns, but about building tribes and inspiring movements. Brand storytelling is the art of shaping a company’s identity through the use of narratives and storytelling techniques that facilitate an emotional response and establish meaningful connections. Brand storytelling can take the form of a video, a tweet, a conversation, a surprise-and-delight act, great customer service, or a brand taking a stand on a specific issue. The list is long.

Every interaction counts

A company’s every interaction with the world matters in shaping its story (both at the macro and micro level). Macro stories are at the core of your organisation’s DNA. They highlight your company’s story and its founding myth. Micro stories are the lifeblood of your storytelling strategy. They are an “always-on” approach to continue building on your macro story. Micro stories can come in any shape or form: website updates, social content, blog posts, press releases, co-marketing and partner messaging, packaging, events, customer stories, employee stories, influencer stories, internal communications, newsletters, e-mail campaigns, product delivery, and so on.

Mapping the story

Regardless of your industry, size, or whether you are a B2C or B2B company, your brand’s mission, values, and personality are the foundation to how you build your brand storytelling strategy and, ultimately, the stories you bring to life. Every company has a purpose, the ultimate reason for its existence. Here are some question to help:

  • Why does your brand exist?
  • What does your brand stand for?
  • What is the culture you want to nurture?
  • How do you define your brand values?
  • What are your company’s founding principles and how they have evolved over time?
  • What is the why behind how you run your business (sourcing products, supply chain, operations, employee guidelines and treatment, corporate social responsibility policies)?
  • What is your stance on important issues (social, political, environmental)?
  • Who are your key stakeholders and how your actions, values, and voice will shape their perception of you—customers, employees, investors, the news media, industry influencers, activist and special interest groups, and more?
  • What is your “customer delight” approach across the organisation?
  • What is your brand authority and what differentiates you from others in your industry
  • Where you have been: what are the equities built into the brand over time?
  • Where you are today: what insights do you have into your consumers’ lives and the role the brand or product plays today?
  • Where you are going: what are the cultural codes, trends, and tensions that show us where culture is headed and what the brand role could be tomorrow?

Finally; telling amazing stories isn’t enough anymore. You have to create the experience worth talking about. Read “Talk triggers“.

Go visual

Visual storytelling is defined as the use of images, videos, infographics, presentations, and other visual elements to craft a story around key brand values and offerings.  In a time of shrinking attention spans, companies with a strong visual identity are more recognisable, trustworthy, and memorable to customers. Shaping the right visual identity is a powerful differentiator—and a huge detractor if not done correctly.

  • Visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text by the human brain.
  • 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual
  • People can recall 65% of the visual content that they see almost three days later, compared to 10% of written content.
  • On Snapchat alone, users send 3 billion snaps every day, while Facebook users watch over 100 million hours of video on the platform daily.

What do you need to do to stay on top

  • Investing in online listening tools that allow you to catch rising trends, hot conversations, and brand mentions early on
  • Hiring people from the news industry, those with skill sets to create relevant content based on the immediate demands of consumers and do so in real-time
  • Adding always-on budgets that accommodate the need for on-the-spot creative brainstorming and execution
  • Creating “brand storyteller” roles to address the shift from head marketing to heart marketing
  • Putting processes in place that ensure immediate idea execution by involving the right stakeholders (strategy, creative, analytics, paid media, legal, community managers, etc.)
  • Adopting the mantra “Customer care is the new marketing” and training customer service teams to focus on not only traditional support channels but online channels as well (social care)


1. Prioritise your channel mix. Prioritise those where your customers are, with one important caveat: make it clear to your customers where you are present!

2. Don’t invest only in rented land. While it’s tempting to go big on social media channels, a word of caution: they are rented land. Owned channels are the ones your company is in charge of such as website, blog, packaging, in-store experience, and more. You should read “Killing marketing“.

The lesson

Marketing is the price you pay for being unremarkable. Why not just focus on customer delight? Making your company loveable. With a great story to tell.





sensemaking cover


Sense making; morality, humanity, leadership and slow flow. A book about the 14 books about the impact and implications of technology on business and humanity.

Ron Immink

I help companies by developing an inspiring and clear future perspective, which creates better business models, higher productivity, more profit and a higher valuation. Best-selling author, speaker, writer.

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