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Is Brand Storytelling Dead?

When Shaun sent through a link to an article declaring ‘storytelling dead’ and asked me to comment, I wasn’t at all surprised to read what followed. The piece suggested that because attention spans are shrinking your customers don’t have time to pay attention to your story.

Here’s a snippet of the rationale that followed:

“…it’s time to stop pinning our marketing and communications strategies around storytelling. Stories take time, and time is our greatest luxury. If most consumers can’t afford the luxury of diving deep into your brand story, is a long-winded narrative about heritage and craftsmanship the right strategy? Of course not. While it ostensibly makes sense to bulk up credibility with character counts, it doesn’t make your audience’s life easier—and at the end of the day, isn’t that we all want?

One final nail in the coffin for storytelling: It can be downright dangerous for your brand. We live in the era of transparency and access, so it’s easier than ever for consumers to sniff out inauthentic back stories and eyebrow-raising claims.”

The author makes a case for a simpler form of marketing, that leaves room from the customer to figure things out for themselves….“No text, no tagline, no storytelling required.”

The article makes two assumptions:

1. Brand stories are long-winded narratives—words that are written, read or spoken.

2. Brand stories are fabrications, false claims or half truths designed to embellish the banal or dupe customers.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you already understand that a brand story is more than cleverly crafted copy. A story isn’t something you choose to tell or not to tell. It’s what people believe when they encounter you or your brand, the impressions they form and the assumptions they make at every interaction with you, both in personal and business settings. Customers are making sense of your story even when they aren’t consciously paying attention.

Your brand story, just like Apple’s or Nike’s is communicated, experienced and felt even before you write a single word of copy. Your design choices, products, pricing, packaging, location, user experience, testimonials, the staff you hire and on and on, are all part of that story. Everything you do, every action you take is telling the story. How you articulate your story in words and images is just a tiny part of it.

As long as we humans are in possession of any one of our five senses stories will survive.
We don’t simply tell our brand stories—we live them.
If it’s a story worth telling then you’ve got time.

Image by J-No.