on March 07, 2012

10 Insights Into the Art of Brand Storytelling

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What can marketers learn from filmmaker Andrew Stanton (@andrewstanton), whose work includes: Toy Story, Finding Nemo, WALL-E, A Bug’s Life and John Carter?

The art of story.

Marketing is Storytelling

Finding Nemo FrameWe are all storytellers. The most powerful brands learn to engage customers through content. They use videos, podcasts, blog posts, webinars, social media, and other online and offline channels to tell stories.

As I wrote in 9 Steps to Gain Leads and Loyalty with Content Marketing, "We want consumers to connect with our brands in new ways. As marketers, our job is to know our prospects and customers. To match our knowledge and expertise with their needs for products, services and information."

To stand out from the competition, we have to be remarkable and memorable, take chances, put our audiences’ needs and goals ahead of our own, bring value to their lives, and help them find success and happiness.

And that’s where content marketing comes in to the mix. We are all publishers, and we all have a unique story to tell. Great content gives businesses the ability to differentiate and connect in meaningful ways through story.

10 Storytelling Insights from Andrew Stanton

In his powerful TED talk — The clues to a great story — filmmaker Andrew Stanton shares his secrets to storytelling. It’s worth the 19:16 of your time to watch it, but here are some of my favorite insights for brands and marketing professionals.

  1. Storytelling is joke telling. It's knowing your punch line, your ending, and that every piece is leading to a singular goal. Start at the end, and work your way back to the beginning.
  2. Make your audience care about what happens next, and make them a promise that the story will lead somewhere that's worth their time.
  3. Storytelling without dialogue is the purest form.
  4. Your audience wants to work for it, but doesn't want to know they are. We are problem solvers by nature.
  5. It's the absence of information that draws us in. Give them 2+2, but don’t give them 4.
  6. Stories are inevitable, but they are not predictable.
  7. All characters have a dominant, unconscious goal that drives them.
  8. Drama is anticipation mingled with uncertainty.
  9. Set out to invoke wonder. It’s the secret sauce.
  10. Use what you know. Draw from it. Express values you personally feel deep down in your core. Capture a truth from your experience

What are your storytelling truths?

Paul Roetzer

Paul Roetzer is Ready North's (formerly PR 20/20) founder and senior advisor, as well as the founder and CEO of Marketing AI Institute. He is the author of Marketing Artificial Intelligence (Matt Holt Books, 2022) The Marketing Performance Blueprint (Wiley, 2014), and The Marketing Agency Blueprint (Wiley, 2012); and the creator of the Marketing AI Conference (MAICON). Full bio.