Story Building | Developing Messages That Stick

From the dawn of our time, communication has been shared through storytelling. The world’s first infographics cover cave walls dating back 40,000 years. History has been passed down through generations from our elders to our young through stories that can be easily remembered. With the evolution of technology, is the art of storytelling still effective in the 21st century marketplace?

Tell Me About . . .

Many times, a company will tell a prospective customer about the features and benefits of their product or service. How “this or that” is better than a competitor’s. We are the best and you need this. The process in the approach is illustrated as:


Here the company controls the brand and markets to the customer, and in turn the customer base grows the company. Today’s audiences know the features and benefits, they are looking for engagement. What has caused this change in the audience’s buying process?

Tell Me How . . .

Traditional buyers were driven by the rational triggers of product and price. Buyers today are triggered by the emotional side of the product or service. These new dynamics come into play in response to technology and the social media influences that guide the buyer. As you can see below, the company and the customer share the role of brand ambassador and the “living, breathing” brand drives the company.


This updated process illustrates StoryBuilding, which engages the customer by creating a REAL EMOTION. Customers are focused on the experience. They are looking for an active relationship with the brand. A true WOW experience they can share!

4 Characteristics of a Sharable WOW Moment

Wow… Okay, how do we achieve “wow”?

Start with emotion, not features and benefits

The customer wants to feel emotions. The stronger the emotion, the more likely they are moved to share their experience with others, and in turn extending the reach of the brand.

This man’s dog is part of him, part of the family. Love them back by feeding him tasty Cesar’s! If the spot opened and closed on the features and benefits of feeding your dog Cesar’s (real meat, essential vitamins for a luxurious coat) would you remember let alone share with your friends?

Develop a Character

Not many people will identify with a product alone, but include a character and the connection begins to form. In 2010, Reaktor Design’s packaging for Friele Coffee aimed at personifying their coffee by focusing on people from the country that the coffee beans originated. This package design helped to draw customer’s closer to the region by identifying with the human aspect presented in the image.


Other examples of this approach can be seen with the Geico, Aflac, and past Apple commercials. A gecko, duck, and the PC/Mac characters all make memorable brand ambassadors that are much more fun to share than “100% arabica beans”.


Add a Little Tension

Using unpredictability pulls people in for a closer look, they’re uncomfortable and looking for a solution.

This commercial does a great job of building to a moment that you didn’t see coming. A happy ending that catches you off guard and you can’t help but want to share. This is also a perfect example of our last element in producing a sharable moment.

Protect the Reveal

Below is one of the most powerful messages I have seen in a while. Watch and I think you’ll understand the power of Story Building.

This message was revealed at the very end of the commercial, in a powerful and memorable moment. This video went viral, spreading Argentina’s organ donation message globally.

Caring is Sharing

How does your messaging measure up to these pieces? Are you building stories with your customers that are shareable across social media? An emotional attachment to your brand will go far in growing your audience exponentially. We all love a great story, provide one in terms of your brand and build a lasting relationship with your growing population of brand ambassadors.

Special thanks to Stacy Infantozzi, Marketing and Advertising Consultant for her contributions and research.

Cesar’s Dog Food
Reaktor Design
John Lewis Department Stores
Fundacion Agentina De Trasplante Hepatico

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