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Storytelling Basics for Marketing

Brand narrative storytelling

Picture yourself around an ancient campfire. Deep darkness crowding all around. Some of your people still not back yet from the hunt. Nocturnal animal sounds barely muted by the crackle of wood burning.

A familiar figure stands there illuminated by the flames, wrapped in the pelt and head of a very large cat, acting out a hilarious accounting of finding the fierce animal so many seasons ago, caught in the mud trap and unable to fight or flee the hunter’s spear.

Suddenly the darkness doesn’t seem so threatening. The monsters can clearly be killed. The support and ingenuity of your friends and family offers hope and protection, and you’re able to sleep more soundly. Meaning you’ll be more effective the next day, contributing your talents to the common good.

Multiply that by 10,000 generations and here we are. That’s the ancient power of story—and every single one of us bears that torch within us.

Why do we tell stories?

Obviously storytelling is a versatile tool whose effectiveness stretches well beyond entertainment and marketing. At the most fundamental level, our very lives are stories—strung together from memories of experiences that help us determine our choices and explain who we are.

Storytelling is how we make sense of the world and create meaning out of the mathematical chaos of the physical universe. It’s how we carry the past into the future—because otherwise there’s just this endless sensory Now.

The stories we hold guide our decision-making and our interactions with others. They inform how we evaluate our surroundings and situations. And connect us to other people through distance and time.

The purposes of storytelling

  • Chase away fear

  • Explain unknowns

  • Pass down knowledge & experience

  • Track the seasons & ritualize time’s passage

  • Remember ancestors

  • Develop mindfulness & awareness

  • Share lessons & emotions

  • Persuade others

If you’re an entrepreneur, you are a storyteller. You imagined a story of a better life for a set of people, and you worked your ass off to make it come true. And marketing is how you spread that story to those who need it.