Brand Storytelling: Focus On People Not Products

Patricia WeissDecember 11, 20187174 min

The harsh truth is: stories are shared because audiences find them interesting, not because they belong to a brand. And probably, a brands’ biggest challenge is how to get the attention, the time and captivate today’s dispersive audiences.

But the solution isn’t simply giving up on communication that’s intrusive, such as advertising, to invest in Branded Content incorporating storytelling, because if there isn’t a great idea and talent behind it, forms and techniques become useless.

And above all, in my opinion, the brand story must have three essential drivers: relevance, truth and meaning. And should be always people-oriented, not product-oriented.

Brands need to make their first switch, their first key turning point by choosing to tell meaningful stories, which isn’t intrusive but is completely focused on its audiences. Where the hero and protagonist are the audiences – not brands – and the focus is not on impact or views and likes but on provoking and expanding the conversation and the relationship, leaving a legacy.

Relevance in fact, is a word that seems so obvious as it is rare within our polluted reality caused by so many uninteresting messages, with many brands bombarding consumers around the world every day, shamelessly. Messages that are often irrelevant and overly focused on what brands want to say about themselves and not about what’s interesting and concerns people.

I often say that the true revolution of marketing happens when brands (really) step into people’s shoes. Because no brand will find its own truth and also people’s truth if this “displacement” doesn’t happen, transforming it’s mindset and transcending its point of view.

Brand Purpose: Find Your Why

Brands must address the truth with honesty, with amplitude and depth because this is what really matters to people, taking over the moral duty to represent the society and dare to transform the culture. With less promise and more purpose. Because what really matters isn’t what or how brands do, but why.

Intention Is The New Authenticity

We are living in a sort of “Era of the Truth” in a hyper-connected and increasingly transparent society. Where truth, conflicts and differences among individuals rise to surface with more intensity; where nuances become evident and human differences have a voice and meaning of their own. What used to be peripheral is becoming mainstream, affecting and touching people like never before; what’s false and arrogant emerge and what’s true and honest come to light. The audiences identify what’s wrong already from the brand’s intention, realizing with ease if the brand is bluffing, making promises or even being opportunistic.

A brand narrative with a broad meaning to society materializes the encounter between brand’s purpose and human insight. When the brand’s truth is in tune with people’s truth through relevant and meaningful stories, it creates value.

So brands should choose the path of meaningful narratives, where stories that are based on truth and made for real people has proven to work very well. A choice that is directly related to the brand’s purpose, its vocation and role in the world and to what is relevant and makes sense to the audiences, like the compelling 48 minutes fiction story Córazon (a film based on a real-life patient story, told beautifully by the Montefiore Health System), also the GE brand turning science into science fiction by creating their second successful podcast Life After, the animated short film The Scarecrow by Chipotle, or the recent documentary The Unseen Ocean, another moving story from the series “Human made stories” by Volvo.

All meaningful, relevant and true human stories about people, not about the brand.

And how can brands – who want to amplify their message and value – discover the truth in people? Here is a good tip:

The Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano once said that what moved him to write was (in free translation): “Being able to look at what is not supposed to be seen but deserves to be seen, the small, the tiny things of unknown people, the micro-world where the true greatness of the universe lives and, at the same time, to be able to contemplate the universe through a keyhole, that is, from little things, to be able to look beyond, to the great mysteries of life.”

Contributed to Branding Strategy Insider by: Patrícia Weiss, Chairwoman, Founder BCMA South America Head of Branded Content & Entertainment Strategy and Executive Producer at Asas.

The Blake Project Can Help: The Strategic Brand Storytelling Workshop

Branding Strategy Insider is a service of The Blake Project: A strategic brand consultancy specializing in Brand Research, Brand Strategy, Brand Growth and Brand Education

FREE Publications And Resources For Marketers

Patricia Weiss

Connect With Us


Branding Strategy Insider is published by The Blake Project, an independently owned, strategic brand consultancy with extensive experience helping businesses and brands gain an emotional advantage, a distinctive advantage and a connective advantage.

Subscribe and Grow

Choose how often you receive our insights.

© 2022 Branding Strategy Insider. All Rights Reserved.