6

min read

9 Of The Best Brand Storytelling Examples, Plus 1 Shameless Plug

Brand Storytelling might be a marketing term you're familiar with, but what does it actually look like when brands do it well? We rounded up some of our favorite examples you can learn from right now. Number 10 on this list may just blow your mind! 🤯

Examples

9 Of The Best Brand Storytelling Examples, Plus 1 Shameless Plug

Brand Storytelling might be a marketing term you're familiar with, but what does it actually look like when brands do it well? We rounded up some of our favorite examples you can learn from right now. Number 10 on this list may just blow your mind! 🤯

6

min read

Published:

August 27, 2020

It's time to find your Brand Storytelling inspiration.

As a marketer, chances are you’ve come across the concept of Brand Storytelling in the last few years. You may be asking yourself though, “What exactly is brand storytelling, and how can I do it for my brand?”

At a high level, brand storytelling is exactly what it sounds like – brands telling stories. However, there are many nuanced differences that distinguish brand storytelling from typical forms of traditional brand marketing.

We’ve written about the basics of Brand Storytelling with video before (If you haven’t already, go and read that post!) In it, we explore the power stories have to connect with customers on an emotional level, how they influence our buying habits, and outline the reasons why we see Brand Storytelling as the future of content marketing. We also share our 4 pillars of storytelling that every brand should incorporate into their stories.

Even with a solid understanding of Brand Storytelling as a concept, it can be difficult to fully wrap your head around what this type of media looks and feels like. To help, we rounded up 9 of the best examples of Brand Storytelling that exist in 2020, plus a shameless plug for our original docu-series, Making Legacy.

1. Patagonia Stories

Patagonia Stories is a collection of videos and articles that explore the relationship with nature and the outdoor community. The storytelling celebrates a wide range of issues and values important to the Patagonia brand: climate activism, equality and representation in outdoor sports, durability and longevity of consumer goods, and a lifelong pursuit to appreciating the adventures available in nature.

Still from Patagonia's Worn Wear series of storytelling. Stories about repairing your gear rather than replacing.
Stories about repairing your gear rather than replacing.

We love it because:

Every story Patagonia puts out through this channel contributes to a better understanding and reinforcement of Patagonia’s mission and core values. As a brand, they understand that coming up with a set of values isn’t enough. They need to act on them. Each new story they release adds to the mosaic of a global community dedicated to positive environmental change, and celebrates this work in a relatable human way.

Why it works:

Patagonia truly understands their audience, and knows that their customers aren’t interested in hearing only about the newest technical advances in outdoor apparel. People who are drawn to the Patagonia brand are drawn to the focus and attention the brand places on living an active outdoor life. Each passionate nature enthusiast they place the spotlight on in their Stories proves that Patagonia gear is the right choice for the job – whether it’s scaling glaciers, ripping through a forested single-track mountain bike trail, or tirelessly fighting for climate justice.

2. Mailchimp Presents

Email marketing turned all around small business solution platform, Mailchimp, launched Mailchimp Presents as a way to inspire & celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit. Each piece of content is intended to relate and encourage entrepreneurs on their business growth path. The result is a beautifully curated collection of entertaining podcasts, documentary and scripted video series, and short films – all presented in a Netflix or Hulu style viewing experience.

Still from Taking Stock - An original scripted series from Mailchimp Presents.

We love it because:

There is so much to love about Mailchimp Presents. The major draw for us though is their use of an episodic content model for the majority of their shows and podcasts. This episodic show model coupled with premium level production, and a variety of show types creates a binge-worthy streaming experience with dynamic content that keeps us coming back for more.

Why it works:  

By approaching storytelling with the goal of celebrating the entrepreneurial spirit, they’ve created a collection of stories that address the common struggles, pitfalls, and triumphs that come with starting and growing your own small business. What’s remarkable is that Mailchimp’s products don’t need to be prominently featured in this content. By curating and featuring a variety of content on their own premium streaming platform, they’re able to reinforce the WHY behind the Mailchimp brand.

3. Lyft - Cities Talk Back

Realizing they had a unique opportunity to add to the conversations around immigration and what it means to be American, Lyft explored the stories from their diverse community of drivers in large cities across the US. Cities Talk Back is an experience that plants a flag for Lyft with the singular principle that “America is an idea, not a geography.” Each story explores a different aspect of the immigrant experience and what it means to contribute to American culture.

Inspiring stories from the Lyft community.

We love it because:

One of Lyft’s three core values is to uplift others. To them, this means taking care of others “no matter which seat you’re in.” Every story in the Cities Talk Back series beautifully embodies this value. Each portrait adds depth to the conversation about what it means to be American, and celebrates the drive and ambition of immigrants to create a place for themselves and their families in the US.

Why it works:

As an experience, Cities Talk Back rewards on many levels. Each character portrait is presented as a video and an accompanying blog post with a photo essay. This rich content treatment gives viewers many ways to spend time with the characters and get to know their stories. It’s important to note that this approach also ensures the storytelling has SEO legs to stand on – essentially allowing each character portrait to act as a discovery pathway for the larger experience. Cities Talk Back is also a great example of a brand being an advocate for change, and shows how it’s possible to use your brand’s platform to elevate under represented voices.

4. Land Rover - The Land of Land Rovers

Before renowned luxury vehicle brand Land Rover was known for their overstuffed leather upholstery and exotic wood inlaid interiors, they were known for one thing: being indestructible. This legacy was created back in 1948 when they rolled out the original 4x4 Land Rover, now known as the Defender. The durability and longevity of these vehicles has defined what the brand stands for, and it’s this enduring spirit that is celebrated in their Brand Storytelling film, The Land of Land Rovers.

Still from The Land of Land Rovers.

We love it because:

The story finding in this film is tremendous. Viewers are transported to the remote Nepali village of Maneybhanjang. What makes this small village nestled permanently among the clouds unique is that fact that it has the largest density of original Land Rovers still in service. 42 to be exact! The storytelling revolves around members of the community that rely on Land Rovers to safely navigate the steep and treacherous roads in the area. The resulting take-away is that you can get anywhere you want driving a Land Rover.

Why it works:

This film is a successful example of Brand Storytelling because it perfectly embodies the brand promise that comes with purchasing a Land Rover: every vehicle with the Land Rover badge can be driven effortlessly on some of the world's most difficult terrain. Despite this overt celebration of the brand, this piece works by focusing on the local mechanics and enthusiasts that have kept the fleet in operation. The pride represented from the community of Maneybhanjang is directly echoed in every enthusiast of the brand.

5. Bevel - Mirrors

Born from the frustration of feeling like a “second class citizen” while walking down the grooming aisle, Tristan Walker created Bevel as a way to make health and beauty simple for people of color. To support their line of beautifully designed grooming products, they create engaging videos that give shape to the mission behind the brand, and personify the target audience through relatable grooming stories. Their Mirrors series is a great example of how they’ve turned the traditional testimonial model into compelling Brand Storytelling.

Still from Tristan's Story in Bevel's Mirrors series.

We love it because:

Season 1 of Mirrors is an 8 part episodic series that explores the topics of heritage, race, passing on traditions, and common struggles black men face with grooming. Each 30 second episode explores a character’s journey and relationship with grooming. Together they create a mosaic of heartfelt storytelling that encapsulates every brand value of Bevel.

Why it works:

It’s clear that Bevel as a brand has a solid understanding of Brand Storytelling. Rather than placing the focus of their storytelling on their products, they instead elevate the stories of their customers and the barber community to reiterate why the brand exists. When they do talk about the products, they do so in a way that illustrates how the heroes of the stories have used Bevel to triumph over their personal conflicts.

6. Shopify Studios

Shopify is one of the best known and most trusted e-commerce platforms for anyone wanting to build and grow an online business. Recognizing the nearly endless well of inspiring stories that exist within their entrepreneur community, they launched Shopify Studios as a way to expertly share these stories.

Stories from the Shopify community of entrepreneurs.

We love it because:

By launching Shopify Studios through Youtube, Shopify is able to fully embrace an episodic approach to their storytelling. Each show is given its own playlist and storytelling lane to live in. This approach allows them to showcase a wide range of small business stories with a variety of production levels to the content. For instance, shows like My Shopify Business Story all have a high production value with documentary style visual direction, while a show like Start A Business follows more of a traditional Youtube “vlogger” format. This variety creates a diverse collection of content with broad appeal to global viewers.

Why it works:

A quick analysis of the video views on the My Shopify Business Story series reveals an important lesson in episodic storytelling: different characters will relate and connect with different audiences. By creating an easily repeatable show format, Shopify was able to cast a wide net to capture audiences that would resonate with one of the characters. People who see themselves in the founder’s story are more likely to see how Shopify can help them achieve their own online business goals.

7. Musicbed - Find Your Breakthrough

Finding the exact right song for a video project can be a tedious process for even the most seasoned filmmaker. Musicbed’s goal as a music licensing platform is to simplify this process and make finding the perfect song easy for their target customer: the filmmaker. Their dedication to the filmmaker community is reinforced through their blog filled with content about the different aspects of film creation, spotlights on inspiring creators and projects, and insight into the pulse of the music industry. Amongst this wealth of content, one example of excellent Brand Storytelling stood out in the form of a blog post supported by video that puts the spotlight on Director Solomon Ligthelm.

Still from Find Your Breakthrough with Director Solomon Ligthelm.

We love it because:

This example from Musicbed proves that you don’t always need to invest in a Netflix-style streaming experience for your brand. Integrating video storytelling into your blog content is a great way to dramatically expand the potential reach of your message, and encourage your audience to spend more time with the stories you feature. In this video, director Solomon Ligthelm narrates advice and wisdom he applies to his creative process. It’s easy to consume, inspirational, and correctly places the focus on Solomon as the hero of this story.

Why it works:

Musicbed has effectively identified their niche audience. While other music licensing platforms market themselves by appealing to the musical artists, Musicbed is building a community of video creators. The filmmaker focused blog is chocked full of relatable stories, and by incorporating video they’re able to draw the right customers to their platform from social channels. Cut down Instagram and Youtube ads are created from the full Solomon Ligthelm spotlight video, and are promoted as paid media. It’s a perfect example of how a brand can maximize the use of a Brand Storytelling videos.

8. Square - For Every Kind Of Dream

This example from online payments leader Square adds to the prominent theme of documentary-style storytelling that celebrates actual customers. With For Every Kind of Dream, Square tells stories of “everyday people chasing extraordinary dreams.” The collection of films includes some award-winning short documentaries, like Exit 12 which tells the story of a soldier-turned-dancer whose Greenwich Village dance company transforms the pain and trauma veterans face in combat into inspiring dance performances.

Value-driven stories from the Square community.

We love it because:

By presenting this collection of stories, Square is able to fully express the values and ideals that define the brand. Each story of someone pursuing their dream humanizes their core belief that everyone should be able to participate and thrive in the economy. Putting this into action reveals inspiring stories of communities rebuilding after crises, immigrants establishing a better life for themselves and their children, people working to make the most out of their second chances in life, and much, much more.

Why it works:

As an awareness tool, these films are effective because of the premium level of production and storytelling involved. Individual films within this series have won awards and drawn critical acclaim for their bold stories. Square is able to benefit from this broad appeal, and draw viewers to these stories by creating an immersive blog experience that dives deeper into each character through photo essays and journalistic reporting. The result is a uniquely ownable experience for Square and individual films that can live their own lives.

9. Smuggler - Join Meeting

While not officially associated with the video conference platform Zoom, this series from Smuggler director Benji Weinstein serves as a perfect example of a way brands can incorporate humor and scripted entertainment into their storytelling. Each episode in the Join Meeting series drops you awkwardly into a fictitious creative agency’s Zoom meetings. Every disfunction, inappropriate gaffe, and toxic power dynamic pervasive in office culture is on full display in these scripted episodes. The viewer is treated to an all-too-relatable experience that echoes our day-to-day struggles navigating the new remote work environment.

"Join Meeting" is a series filmed entirely using Zoom.

We love it because:

Capturing authentic customer stories in the time of COVID-19 can seem like an almost impossible challenge. This series showcases how storytellers can successfully turn limitations into opportunities, and deliver an experience that is undeniably authentic. Since Smuggler was able to capture this series solely using the tools available through Zoom, they were able to keep budget very low and champion the capabilities of Zoom at the same time.

Why it works:

If we had to take our best guess at what the future of media and Brand Storytelling looked like, we would imagine a world where brands fully embrace the potential to act as media companies and produce branded entertainment in-lieu of expensive ad campaigns.

Ok, here it is...our Shameless Plug.

10. Making Legacy

Taking everything we know and love about brand storytelling, we decided to create our own original series celebrating the entrepreneurs and makers who inspire us. As a storytelling agency, we felt the best way to give life to the values that drive us was to create a docu-series that follows the ups and downs that come with taking an idea and turning it into a reality.

Hero image of Making Legacy, an original docu-series from People of Story featuring Stephen Kenn, Chef Mei Lin of Nightshade LA, Ratio coffee founder Mark Hellweg, and designer Lisa Jones of Pigeon Toe Ceramics.

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