As a marketer, I bet you heard and read about “brand storytelling” a couple of hundred times over the past few years. Everyone working in marketing, PR or advertising is talking about how brands should adopt (if they didn’t already) storytelling as a content strategy for their brands.
But for me, brand storytelling is just a fancy syntagm that represents what a brand is all about. The story behind, if you want to put it in simple words.
It is scientifically proven that our brains love stories. A study conducted by Berkeley University in 2013 shows that stories change our brain. This doesn’t surprise me at all.
We relate to stories. We put ourselves in the character’s shoes and thus, are able to view things from a different perspective.
Stories are an effective way to transmit important information and values from one individual or community to the next.
– Berkeley University.
You see, in the Instagram and Tik Tok day and age, it’s utterly difficult for a brand to stand out.
And so, the ones that get storytelling right and manage to tell narratives that have meaning for their audiences do make it.
Often, the degree in which a brand manages to have a smart communication strategy is the differentiator between a product being remembered or easily forgotten.
People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.
Brand storytelling in the ‘60s
Any Mad Men fans out there? Remember the vintage Volkswagen ad that advertised the Beetle in the ‘60s? You must know it. It was revolutionary for its time. Why? Because it told a different story than what other car brands did at the time. It was one of the first authentic brand storytelling examples.
In an era when most automotive brands designed and advertised their cars to be bigger, wider and more flamboyant, Volkswagen’s strategy was different. Instead, the copy for the Beetle car talked about the flaws of this car. And did that creatively.
10 modern brand storytelling examples
We here at Flipsnack are big fans of telling stories. And so we already talked about the importance of having a brand story. In this article though, we want to focus more on showcasing some brand storytelling examples that anyone can get inspiration from.
See how some of the biggest brands in the cosmetic, banking or software industry are communicating their brands in a creative way.
Spotify is one of the first brand storytelling examples that came to mind when putting this article together. A well-known brand that speaks from an authentic point of view.
Spotify uses data storytelling in its communication strategy by combining cold data with a human touch.
It first started with the now-famous Wrapped campaigns back in 2017 when Spotify wrapped up all the listening habits of their customers and used the data in a creative way.
Instead of presenting all the results in a press release, they had the perfect insights for billboard ads. Creative, right? Here’s what they did:
For 2019, they addressed the generation X with specific messages all across London.
It made total sense for a brand like Spotify to create content around the ‘80s and ‘90s nostalgia trend and take it to the next level in advertising.
The campaign featured a series of fun and smart ads targeting an audience who grew up with the ‘80s and ‘90s music.
Huggies, the diaper company, had to find a way to deliver an experience that will go beyond double leak protection. They found the perfect insight that was also a perfect fit with their brand. It was all in the hugs. Over 600 studies revealed that hugs help stabilize babies and improve brain development. So, the brand went on a mission to leave no baby unhugged.
In order to emphasize the importance of hugs, Huggies partnered with Ogilvy to launch volunteer hugging program in Canada hospitals.
The initiative was a success by giving Huggies a new image, one that’s empowered with medical authority.
The campaign was a success. Between March and August 2016, sales of Huggies Newborn Diapers increased by more than 16% and market share rose by more than two share points. And it didn’t stop here, in 2018, Huggies released a campaign putting a focus on dads.
This campaign is proof that if done right, using data to build a brand story around it is very powerful.
Redbull is well known as being a brand that empowers its audience to live their lives to the fullest. Ever since the first RedBull gives you wings ads, their brand storytelling was based on taking action.
Today, Redbull is one of the best brand storytelling examples that proves good storytelling should be at the core of any marketing strategy. Proof being the Redbull Media house, a multimedia content platform that has a mission to inspire with “beyond the ordinary” stories.
Like the big stratosphere parachute jump in 2012. Redbull sponsored the big event that astonished millions watching live around the world a parachute jump from the edge of space.
On social media, Redbull is focused on co-creating stories with its audience. That’s why the brand is always posting extreme videos from their community, this way engaging with the audience on a deeply creative level. A social media marketing recipe that works wonders.
Kiehl’s is probably one of the oldest skincare brands on the market. What first started as a family apothecary, it transformed into a multi-million dollar skincare business. Sure, 168 years later.
Why is this a good brand storytelling example? Because Kiehl’s is delivering skincare products based on the same old 160 year old promise – choosing the very best natural ingredients for its products.
Kiehl’s also does this with all the other marketing and retail aspects of their brand.
Everything about its products respects the same brand philosophy. From recycled simple packaging to the causes they support.
And if you ever happen to enter a Kiehl’s store, you will see that it looks like a modern-day apothecary. With its sales associates spending a lot of time giving advice on Kiehl’s skincare products. Something that’s an homage to the pharmacy heritage of the brand.
Maybe you will wonder about the vintage Ducati motorcycle that is displayed in some of Kiehl’s stores. The legend says that Mr. Aaron Morse noticed that a lot of couples that would come together in the store. While the gentleman was not particularly interested in cosmetic products, he decided to offer some sort of entertainment for them by displaying some of its motorcycles in store. Today, this is one of Kiehl’s trademarks. It’s what makes the brand look and feel modern.
Kiehl’s is the perfect example that communicating your brand’s story should happen in everything you do as a brand. Online and offline.
One thing that helped Mailchimp become this big product it is today is its way of communicating and catering to their clients. In a world of boring corporate solutions, Mailchimp stands out for being fun.
Do you know Freddie? Mailchimp’s logo?
Choosing a monkey as branding for an email automation platform is quite an interesting and creative thing to do. Not to mention, it’s memorable.
But they didn’t just have a monkey for the sake of it. The way Mailchimp communicated with its public was fun and witty, even before this style of communicating for SAAS products was a trend. Here’s an email from 2009 to prove that.
10 years later, Mailchimp is still having a lot of fun with their communication strategy.
Here’s a video Mailchimp did to explain that their platform is more than an email platform.
So, when it comes to brand storytelling examples, Mailchimp should be talked about as a study case. Main subject being: how to communicate your brand internally and externally.
Speaking of monkeys, Deciem, the skincare brand also used the quirky primate to draw attention on their social media.
Deciem is a skincare company that became very popular in a short period of time. Part of this success was its brand storytelling strategy.
Their communication was always about honesty. Deciem has always used slogans like “Beauty is between you and you” and avoided hype or fancy words that are usually overused by the beauty industry.
They used the same “strategy” on social media as well. And it worked. They built an authentic connection with their followers by sending out honest content and world-class customer service that helped Deciem build a strong and loyal customer base.
And because their products require a bit of skincare knowledge, they took the daunting task of writing lengthy social media posts and informing its users about how to use certain products. Deciem is known for having had the need to communicate a few sensible issues. Like the one when Estee Lauder acquired a big part of the company. Or when its founder, Brandon Truaxe was found dead. But again, honesty was the way to go for Deciem.
For Deciem, one of the best brand storytelling examples we found, communication is all about being honest. This way, the brand being a disruptor in the cosmetic industry. Or a trendsetter, if you may.
I think it’s safe to say that Revolut revolutionized the banking industry. Or at least, the way banking is perceived in the digital age. Fintech is a relatively new concept, but Revolut is one of its pioneers. And so, the way Revolut communicates is truly unusual, being honest and open.
Putting people first and communicating in a way that everyone understands complex banking concepts is something Revolut is known for. This is not a classical case of brand storytelling, but it was worth mentioning a fintech brand that really pays attention and communicates with its customers in mind. Even their customer service department is called “people”.
Are we seeing an emerging trend when it comes to communicating very openly and honestly? Many brands do this and it seems to be paying off really well. Because it’s authentic.
At this point, Slack is just as much of a household name as any of the other brands mentioned on this list. For good reason.
Since the beginning, Slack has had a very close relationship with their users. Since Slack’s launch in 2013, they have quickly risen to the top of the charts as one of the must-haves in the digital tool department. Its entire design is based on how people use it. You see, Slack takes the feedback given by their users and develops new features based on what they want.
But, possibly one of the coolest stories Slack has is their logo. Yes, the controversial logo change that rattled the world.
The honest truth is that the original logo the Slack launched with was a design mess. It had an insane color pallet, and it was very difficult to match with, well anything. But, it was familiar to the users that had grown to know and love it. Once Slack changed it, it really did rattle some cages.
But, instead of simply pushing it aside and saying whatever, Slack used their strong roots in the community to explain why they did what they did. They published an in-depth article explaining why they did it, and this really helped the community understand.
So where did these deep roots in the community come from? Believe it or not, Slack wasn’t always called Slack, and it wasn’t always the tool that we know. In fact, the company was originally called Tiny Speck, and it was a failed game developing company.
Unfortunately, they used Adobe Flash as their developing platform, and the game ultimately failed. But, they decided to create Slack in its wake. And because of their already strong community of passionate people, Slack rocketed forward, and is what it is today.
Since the beginning, Heineken’s brand promise was all about product quality and creating a brand that’s about more than just the beer they are selling. The commitment to produce a high quality beer was made and is still kept even today. This is what has helped Heineken earn a global reputation.
But Heineken soon realised that advertising beer takes much more than this. Because beer is a social product. And so Heineken uses this insight in all its communications endeavors. The ones related to Champions League.
Beer and soccer? Sounds like a safe association for Heineken
Well known fact that Heineken is still one of the main sponsors of Uefa Champions League. For more than 20 years now, the beverage brand communicated its affinity for soccer through numerous tv commercials and social media campaigns, like #ShareTheSofa to spark the conversation around this.
But because sports is a universal language, as of recent, the beverage giant released an ad that shows people watching ruby and being confused about when to cheer. All this to make Rugby World Cup accessible to a wider audience. Heineken is, in a way, the perfect brand storytelling example that shows how important it is to make successful and prolific brand associations. The “Now you can” campaign that promotes Heineken 0% comes to support this statement.
10. Old Spice
Could this article about the best brand storytelling examples not mention Old Spice?
It all started with the “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign that used humour to rejuvenate an old brand.
Sure, humor is important but all this campaign was based on a very important insight, one that had a lot to do with targeting.
P&G’s research uncovered that 60% of men’s body washes were actually bought by women. And so, it made sense for Old Spice to target women, as they were the ones making purchasing decisions even for male household members.
Old Spice had to carefully target to environments and channels where couples were likely to watch the advertisement together. Like the Superbowl.
It’s safe to say that Old Spice is one of the most creative brand storytelling examples we could think of. Starting with this campaign, Old Spice rebranded itself as a fun brand that no longer sells deodorant and body wash to grandpas reinventing itself for a much younger demographic.
And this new approach worked. According to Nielsen, sales for Old Spice body wash increased by 60% from the previous year.
10 Creative Brand Storytelling Examples To Find Inspiration From
After analysing all these brand storytelling examples, it’s safe to say that at the very core of any brand story should be authenticity. Something that will relate to people. Because customers are not stupid and they will rapidly smell overly fabricated stories. Brand storytelling is a journey, both for the company and the customers. It’s an ever-vital communication strategy that is very well summarized in the video below. Check it out.
So, next time you think about writing stories about your brand or mission, think about what your brand is about, what it stands for and make sure to send this exact message to your audience.
But don’t stop there. Your brand message and story should be the defining trend in all of your campaigns. Carry it and wave it proudly like a flag, just like Old Spice and Heineken. Take this inspiration and let it be your creative catalyst.