Artfully served stories grow powerful brands

Saturday March 18 2023

From left: Athletes Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea, Ethiopia’s Lelisa Desisa and Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya. The three elite runners’ resilience and successes are posterboy scripts for any brand they patronise. PHOTO | AFP


Beyond being an art-form, they weave emotional connections leading to greater brand loyalty and advocacy, resulting in increased sales and profit

In the new world in which we find ourselves - a world of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, your ability to tell your story the right way remains one of the ways in which brands can differentiate themselves and build the value of the brand. It remains one of the ways organisations can get the right support from donors and entrepreneurs attract much-needed funding.

Storytelling has been a part of human culture for thousands of years. From oral tradition to written stories, people have always been drawn to narratives that entertain, inspire, and educate.

Power of storytelling

In recent years, businesses have started to recognise the power of storytelling in growing their brands. By telling compelling stories, companies can create emotional connections with their audience, differentiate themselves from competitors, and drive brand loyalty.

The power of storytelling lies in its ability to engage people on an emotional level. Stories have the power to make us laugh, cry, feel inspired, and even angry. By telling stories that resonate with their audience, businesses can create a stronger connection with their customers. This emotional connection can lead to greater brand loyalty and advocacy, which can ultimately result in increased sales and profits.


Not telling the right stories can disconnect customers from a brand. If the stories don’t resonate, customers may feel misunderstood and lose trust, leading to decreased engagement. It's crucial for businesses to understand their audience and craft resonant stories.

Success stories

One example of a brand that has successfully used storytelling to grow its business is Nike whose “Just Do It” campaign, launched in 1988, is one of the most successful marketing campaigns of all time. The campaign was built around the idea that anyone can be an athlete if they have the courage to try. Nike’s adverts featured real athletes telling their stories of perseverance and determination and they were able to create an emotional connection with audiences and differentiate themselves from competitors.

Companies like Coca-Cola & Airbnb used storytelling to become recognisable brands. Coke used “Holidays ads coming” to become the official flag-off of Christmas while Airbnb differentiated itself in a crowded market via the “Live There” campaign, using locals’ stories to show how it offers unique travel experiences that hotels cannot. This helped Airbnb to grow its brand and market share.

National brands

National brands benefit from storytelling too. The Irish government’s “The Gathering” campaign invited people with Irish heritage to reconnect with their roots, using real people’s stories to highlight the emotional connection with their ancestry. The campaign was successful in increasing tourism and promoting Irish culture and heritage.

Storytelling can also be used to increase personal brands. The Obamas were reportedly paid over $65 million for their stories to be told and this raised their brand value as more people talked about them and felt more connected to them after reading their stories.

Now it is not just about telling a story. It is about telling a story that will stick and have the desired result. There is a science to storytelling and this is what we want to pass on to people at our Game Changing Narratives in partnership with the Nation Media Group.

Wale Akinyemi is the founder of The Street University. Email: [email protected].

Editor’s note: The first edition of Game Changing Narratives will be in Nairobi on March 24. Contact Susan on +254 798888597 or email [email protected] to register.