Storytelling in marketing: How to reach your customers

What kind of content catches our attention, captures our hearts and stays in our minds? The answer is stories: they move, thrill, and inspire us. Adding storytelling to your marketing lets you tell stories that engage your target group!

Storytelling in marketing: Bringing tales to life from the pages of a book.
© Saulo Collado / AdobeStock

What is storytelling?

The name says it all: storytelling simply means telling stories. From smart strategies and selected channels to target group-specific language, we think up all kinds of ideas to catch the attention of our (existing and potential) customers and encourage them to buy. But there’s nothing more convincing than a good story well told!

Why is that? The answer is simple: People have always loved telling each other stories and listening to sad, funny, and exciting tales – and that hasn’t changed! Stories may have originated as a way of sharing knowledge, but their patterns have changed over time to make them the ideal way to convey tricky content like social conventions in a way that audiences can understand.

Another advantage is that information from stories is easier for us to remember, particularly stories that appeal to our emotions.

We recommend consciously adding storytelling to your marketing as a way of genuinely reaching customers. For this strategy to be effective, you should weave your messages into the story so that they impact your target group on a personal, emotional level.

How is storytelling relevant for marketing?

Product and brand information tends to be dry, factual content – not particularly memorable on its own. Telling a story, on the other hand, creates a dramatic narrative framework that (crucially) links this information to your customers’ emotions, so that it stays in their memory. The result is lasting brand loyalty.

You can use storytelling to:

  • boost awareness in your target group;
  • share messages in a catchier way;
  • create content that customers will never forget; and
  • build brand loyalty through emotions.

But where exactly can you use storytelling in your marketing? Good news: practically everywhere! Generally speaking, you can come up with a story for every type of content; all that matters for the emotional factor is to personalize it. If you create convincing characters to present your content, then the audience will empathize with them, which in turn helps them identify with your content and messages.

The key to impactful stories

If you want to use storytelling as marketing strategy, the key ingredient is a convincing story. It needs to contain information, convey emotions, and communicate a message. We suggest you put the cart before the horse when you structure your story; in other words, start by asking yourself what point you want your story to make. You also need

  • a protagonist, who your customers can identify with, and
  • a challenge, which your protagonist faces during the story and must overcome.

Storytelling in marketing: Examples of successful players

People want close, trusting relationships with other people and that is the key to successful storytelling in marketing. If you can appeal to your target group on an emotional level and trigger empathy, then your customers will literally experience the story from the protagonist’s perspective. The result is twofold: not only will your customers gain a deeper understanding of the content, but the story framework will also make your content stand out from all the other advertising.

Major brands have been successfully using storytelling for a long time already, as you can see from these examples:

#1 EDEKA: #heimkommen (#cominghome)

(English subtitles available)

EDEKA’s ad demonstrates how storytelling can become even more meaningful, especially at Christmas. As well as making viewers feel profound emotions, the retail giant sends an unambiguous message to its customers – “What things in life are truly important?”

#2 Red Bull: Space jump


Based on the classic heroic feat, this campaign is also highly emotional. Daredevil and extreme athlete Felix Baumgartner – the hero of the story – completed a space jump that broke the world record for the highest freefall, fulfilling the storytelling element of the mission. His preparations and subsequent successful completion of the accomplishment meant that initiator Red Bull was able to attract the attention of countless consumers. The campaign also gave a fresh boost to the company’s slogan “Red Bull Gives You Wings”.

#3 NIVEA: Danke Mama (Thank You Mom)

(only in German, no English subtitles available)

This story is aimed primarily at parents and also really hits home. The message “Thank You Mom” honors and appreciates mothers everywhere, creating strong brand loyalty. Anyone who watches this video is sure to respond differently in the future when they come across NIVEA products in daily life.

#4 IKEA: Feel alive again


IKEA has also tapped into the huge potential of storytelling in its marketing. Picking up on an issue that is worrying many people these days – feeling trapped by daily life, having to keep going through the motions, feeling that the same patterns and routines are constricting – means that the ad will stay in people’s minds and keep doing its job.

Using storytelling to enrich your marketing

As you can see, there are many ways to add storytelling in your marketing, but it always pays off. The only elements you need for success are a clear message, a plot, a main character, and plenty of emotion. Whether your story is dramatic, moving, funny, or simply crazy, if you can use it to speak directly to your target group and touch their emotions, you will bring your brand and message to life. And that is how you can create a genuine, lasting relationship with your customers!