Stories That Stick

illustration of an ear

Part III of Story Design 101 a three-part series on brand building through Story Design, a disciplined approach to creating brand stories that connect, motivate, and stick. Here is where you can read Part I and Part II.

In Parts I and II of this series, we talked about what makes stories so powerful and why they are effective in a business context. Now let’s look at some examples that are intended to inspire you to pursue more stories, and less content, in your brand efforts. 

When I think of great brand stories that stick, I immediately think back to August 2009 when Johnny Walker released The Man Who Walked Around the World. As a piece of brand storytelling, it stands alone – a true inspiration – both in its design and execution. What it proves is that a great story must be given the time it needs. In this case, that’s 6 minutes and 30 seconds. Unwieldy for a brand spot, yet so memorable people talk about it 13 years after its release. 

Of course, not all great brand stories are this expansive or set in the wilds of the Scottish countryside. Sometimes a story can stick by simply using a single image accompanied by 9 words. True economy.

Story in a single frame

In September of 2018, Nike chose Colin Kaepernick for its “Just Do It” campaign. The tightly cropped face of Kaepernick looked into the eyes of the reader: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” What the team at Nike was able to do was make a powerful statement and consumer connection by associating their brand with a story we all know – about an action taken that still resides in all of our brains. We understood it in a single Tweet. No one should dare to refer to this effort as merely content creation. 

Story as Art

Humans tell stories in so many different ways. The Chilean Red Cross recently commissioned artist Maria Lavanchy to create works that underscore their efforts to reunite families separated by natural disasters. It is a compelling brand building initiative, rooted in story, and worth your attention. Not content. 

Story as Product Innovation 

International fashion brand, Samsøe Samsøe, is using similar principles to Story Design to imbed relevance and meaning into their products. Anyone interested in how stories can drive product innovation and customer engagement needs to pay attention to what they are doing. Not content. 

Story as Company

As Pilot enters its 18th year this August, we are recommitting all of our energies to innovation, creativity, and design rooted in story. We have gone from a creative services firm to a Story Design company, dedicated to our craft, our team and our client objectives. 

Right now we are working on a ten year effort to direct billions of dollars toward charities by changing the behaviour of those planning their Wills. We are reimagining the community experience for thousands of individuals and hundreds of emerging companies collaborating across 12 locations around the world. And we are actively rewriting the foundational brand stories of private companies and public institutions, charting deeper connections and relevance. All of this through Story Design.  

In the end, my advice to you is pursue human connection, first and always. The facts of your case will inevitably follow. More stories, less content. 

Pilot is a Story Design company, applying the rigours of behavioural science and design craft to take brands to new heights.