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Why Your Definition Of Brand Storytelling Is Wrong

Why Your Definition Of Brand Storytelling Is Wrong

Brand marketing experts Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio explain why you need to re-think your idea of brand storytelling.

Nowadays everyone is a storyteller. If you create content for a brand, you are a storyteller. If you are in digital or social marketing, you are a storyteller. If you run a PR team, you are a storyteller. Yes, a lot of times people equate marketing or content marketing with storytelling. And it’s not strictly wrong. However, in the fast-moving and consumer-empowered world the definition of brand storytelling changed. Notice we didn’t say “changing”, we said “changed.” And it did.

Brand storytelling isn’t a function of one team; it is a function of the whole company. How? Let us explain.

Here’s the truth about branding that most are missing. Branding isn’t about your logo, the approved color pallet, and cool taglines. Branding is about the stories that your communities create around your mission. Branding is about extraordinary customer service. Branding is about experiences every single person has with your company. And by “every single person,” we mean anyone interacting with your brand: not just your customers but prospects, partners, investors, and employees as well.

A brand is the sum of interactions (real and perceived) that a person
has with a company across all touchpoints.

In the age of the empowered consumer, your brand is not what you say it is. It is what they say it is. And everything you do shapes consumers’ perception about who you are and their decision whether to do business with you or not.

Your brand identity isn’t fixed. It’s fluid. If you stay true to who you are and your mission in everything you do, you have a chance to build on it consistently with your everyday stories and strengthen your brand in the process.

Brand storytelling is at the core of your brand. It is a way of connecting with communities that share your values and your beliefs. Brand storytelling invites others into your tribe and embraces them in an authentic way. Brand storytelling equals heart marketing!

Brand storytelling isn’t about creating marketing campaigns,
but building tribes and inspiring movements.

Or, if you are looking for a more formal definition:

Brand storytelling is the art of shaping a company’s identity through the use of narratives and storytelling techniques, as well as customer experiences you facilitate, which lead to an emotional response and establish meaningful connections.

Brand storytelling done right is never self-absorbed; it is a dialogue. It’s human and real and relatable. It doesn’t have to be dramatic or even funny, but it unites, sparks conversations, and puts people first.

Storytelling can take the form of a video, a tweet, a conversation, a surprise-and-delight act, great customer service, or a brand taking a stand on a specific issue. The list is long. A company’s every interaction with the world matters in shaping its story. Everyone is responsible for shaping brand’s story in customers’ eyes: sales, customer care, HR, PR, marketing, finance, and other departments. You will be surprised how many companies’ marketing messages don’t align with their actions with their customers across touchpoints.

And that’s what great brands do. They build storytelling triggers into every single function of its business realizing that just a flashy marketing campaign isn’t enough anymore. A tear-jerking commercial can only take you so far. The rest of the company – its every function – will have to align with who you want to be as a brand.

Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio are the co-authors of The Laws of Brand Storytelling: Win―and Keep―Your Customers’ Hearts and Minds (November 2018) and The Power of Visual Storytelling.


Ekaterina Walter has been at the forefront of the digital transformation revolution since its early days. At Intel, she led company-wide social media adoption. She spearheaded marketing and technology innovation as cofounder and CMO of Branderati, which was acquired by Sprinklr, a customer experience management platform. She now helps companies build customer-centric digital transformation strategies. She is the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Think Like Zuck and the coauthor of The Power of Visual Storytelling

Jessica Gioglio has spent over a decade leading transformative marketing, public relations, and social media programs for best-in-class companies, including Dunkin’ Donuts, TripAdvisor, State Street, Comcast, and Sprinklr. She was named one of the top marketing leaders to follow by LinkedIn, HubSpot, TopRank Online Marketing, the U.K.’s We Are The City, and more. She is the coauthor of The Power of Visual Storytelling.