3 Crucial Mistakes Brands Make About Stories

  in Content Marketing - March 21, 2016

Photo Mar 07, 2 28 02 PM

Telling stories is easy. We all do it more than we realize. When you get home from work, you recap your day with your family in story form, you don’t give bulleted lists. (At least most humans don’t.) More and more people talk about the power of story in everything from business proposals to marketing to self-growth.

So if stories come so naturally for us as people, why is it often hard to tell stories about the brands we represent? Organizations and brands often fall short in the storytelling department. Here are three crucial mistakes they make in their videos, marketing language, or web copy:


  • They focus on themselves rather than on “YOU.” We all like to think we are the center of the universe. The problem is that pretty much everybody feels that way too. So they don’t really want to hear or read about how great your business or organization is. They want to know what’s in it for them–how are they written into the story? Are they going to get a product that will change their lives? Are they going to make an lasting impact through your nonprofit organization? Are they going to find community and a place to deepen their relationship with Christ at your church? Move the focus from you and your organization to your supporters. Weave their narratives into the story–or at least tell the story with characters to whom they can relate. You (see what we did there?) will be surprised at the response you get from your stories with this slight shift in perspective.


  • They sacrifice good story for self-promotion. Even if brands have done a great job of weaving their supporters into their stories, hubris can still slip in and chip away at their story and its potential effectiveness. Rather than trusting a powerful narrative to show their audience who they are, organizations will often try to cram every detail about themselves, their product, or their services into the story. (There is a time for such straightforwardness but not when you are trying to build a narrative.) Trust the story to stand on its own and if it is compelling enough, people will want to find out more about who your organization is and what you do.
  • They swing the pendulum too far in the other direction. But let’s not get too carried away with the last point. Do you remember all the hilarious ads from this years Super Bowl? Now do you remember what brands those ads were for? Sometimes, people can get so carried away with telling a story that it becomes just a story—if you want to do that, become a novelist. For a story to be an effective marketing tool, your brand has to be somehow represented. Good-storytellers will be able to balance your organization, your supporters, and a strong narrative all in one piece. If you need help with that  … just let us know!