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Boring Brand?! Try these 12 Storytelling Techniques
Not everyone has the privilege to create advertising for exciting brands like Red Bull, Old Spice and Nike. The truth is that most people in the advertising industry face clients who sell soap to retirees. What storytelling techniques will work here?
1. Understand Expert Storytelling
• Everybody is a storyteller. But the truth is,
most of us suck at storytelling.
• Sadly, there is no shortcut to the mechanics
of great stories.
• If you are serious about learning the
techniques of storytelling, I recommend
reading “The Anatomy of Story” by John
3. Write a Premise
• A premise is your story in one sentence.
• It helps you ensure that your story is
• Example: Nike Football “The Last Game”. An
ex-football player assembles the greatest
football stars to battle the clones that have
taken over the football world.
4. Use Key Storytelling
Ingredients: Heroes and Desires
• In “The Last Game” Nike tells the story of
men versus clones.
• The video hit +88 million views and was full
of heros and desires.
• A hero doesn’t have to be a single person.
• It can be a cause, a company or a group of
5. Don’t Sell Your Product
• Nowadays, people can sense advertising
• Of course, you can’t leave the brand out
completely, so the secret is to hide it from
• The fast-food chain Chipotle did this in their
campaign “The Scarecrow”.
6. Deliberately Hide Information
• Withholding, or hiding information is crucial to the
• It forces the audience to figure out who the character
is and what he is doing, and so draws the audience
into the story.
• When the audience no longer has to figure out the
story, it ceases being an audience, and the story
• Don’t take my word for it (the knowledge here comes
from John Truby's book The Anatomy of Story)
7. Be Tremendously Human
• Greeting cards are not the most impressive
things these days. A tough place for
storytelling? Not if you’re human!
• Cardstone created a fake job description,
named it “director of operations” (aka.
mom), published it in newspapers,
interviewed every applicant on Skype and
made a video about it.
• The video got +24 million views
8. Be Authentic
• Make sure your story is real.
• The best way to do that is to base it directly
on real life experience.
• The Cardstone commercial “World’s
Toughest Jobs” did so well because the
Skype interviews look so real and authentic.
Aim for the same in your story.
9. Go for the Laugh
• DIRECTV’s advertising is a great example of
how humor can reach millions of people.
• Their stories are kind of pointless but they
drew millions of people into watching it.
• Because they are extremely funny.
Make it as Visual as
Possible (Use Video!)
10. Make it as Visual as Possible
• Close to 80% of Internet users remember
the video ads they watched online.
• If your ads are moving images, they stick.
• If you want to read more about the power of
video check out this article: “Why Video
Marketing on Facebook, Twitter and
YouTube is So Powerful.”
11. Stand Out
• Remember when Avatar was the first movie
ever to use 3D in cinema?
• Or the TippEx commercial where they
allowed viewers to rewrite the story of a
hunter who is going to shoot a bear?
• That got +45 million views and +1 million
shares on social media. (Not Avatar ;)
Make it Easy to Relate To
for Your Target Group
12. Make it Easy to Relate To for
Your Target Group
• You need to speak your customer’s
• The story has to fit into the existing
worldview of your target group.
• You can figure this out by creating buyer
Key Takeaways - 12 Storytelling Techniques
1. Learn the mechanics of great stories
2. Brainstorm and develop ideas
3. Write a premise
4. Include a hero and a desire
5. Don’t sell your product
6. Hide information
7. Be human
8. Be authentic
9. Use humor
10. Make it visual
11. Stand out of the crowd
12. Make it easy to relate to
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