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Top 10 Storytelling Techniques for Powerful Marketing Videos: How the Big Brands Do It


Storytelling has always been a central part of marketing, and advertisers have been creating storyboards and pitching their ideas through storytelling ever since the beginning of formal advertising. Because it's such an effective tactic, it is still used very successfully today.

In one study, a marketing professor asked her students give a one minute pitch. Only one in 10 students used a story within their pitch while the others stuck to more traditional pitch elements, such as facts and figures. The professor then asked the class to write down everything they remembered about each pitch: 5 percent of students cited a statistic, but an astonishing 63 percent remembered the stories.

The insight has led to the rapid growth of video marketing, particularly videos that use powerful and emotive stories to sell their products and create brand awareness. So immense has been the growth that research suggests that global internet traffic from videos will make up 80% of all internet traffic by 2019. Meanwhile, consumers are 4 times more likely to watch a video about a product than read about it.

But what are the most effective storytelling techniques for creating powerful marketing videos? Here are 10 that the big brands use:

Become familiar with story mechanics

All great stories have a storyline pattern, or ‘arc’. The most well-known is the classic ‘hero’s journey’, which includes a hero who goes into the unknown on a quest to make a difference, faces and overcomes challenges and returns home to tell the story. Kia's 2017 ad for the Niro, aptly titled "A Hero's Journey", provides a perfect example of the successful use of this type of story pattern.


A good story contains tension

Another element of a successful story is tension or conflict. In Kia’s Hero’s Journey, the heroine's conflicts (crazy adventures to save the world) hook the viewers in immediately and they continue watching to see if she gets out alive. With the goal of attracting viewers and holding their interest until the end, this tactic is very successful.

Prepare the story

When you have your storyline ready, it's time to brainstorm and develop solid ideas for characters and plot. It's important that the story flows logically with a clear cause and effect for each situation. Also, make sure that your story format matches nicely with your brand's story. At the end of the preparation phase you will see whether or not your storytelling ideas will meet your marketing purposes.

 Make the story personal

Make your story more personal by tailoring your video message to your audience. Humanising your story will make it more meaningful to the viewers. Base the stories on real life experiences, so they are relatable and honest and viewers trust them.

In Google Chrome's video "Dear Sophie", they are very successful in connecting with their audience on a meaningful and personal level. Viewers can easily identify with the father who uses the web to share memories with his daughter Sophie as she grows up.


Create an appealing story

When you present a story in video form, you are providing the visual material for the viewer. So, make sure that it appeals to all their senses. Make it colourful, give it a good setting and evoke emotions through images and music. 

Don't use your story to sell

Use your story to present your brand's mission, not just a product that you are selling. Show the audience how your brand will change their lives. In Ford's 2017 video "Go Further", the company tells the story of Ford's mission, of how it is using innovation to make people's lives better in the future. 


Surprise your viewers

In order to get attention and stand out, add a surprise. Come up with something unique and watch your views spiral. 

Skittles gave viewers a fun surprise in their video "Romance". It's a humourous, colourful video with clever twists that play on traditional clichés and stereotypes.  


Make your story authentic and sincere

Your story represents your company's brand and it should reflect its integrity. Sharing a story is a perfect way to connect with people and if the story is authentic and sincere, the viewers will appreciate it more. 

Use the right language and pace

Use natural and interesting language in the story. Sometimes just the right music is all you need to get the message across. Viewers won't spend a lot of time on a story that is too slow. Make sure that you tell your story efficiently. 

Yellow Tail Wine uses the perfect combination of language, setting, music and pace to reach the audience with this great 30 second video: "let's yellow tail".


Have a happy ending

When a story has a positive ending, viewers have a more positive feeling towards the brand and relate it to the success story. Since this is the goal of marketing, storytelling is a very valuable tool. 

Budweiser's story titled "Born the Hard Way" is about the founder's difficult journey to America to create a product that he believes in. His journey is difficult but in the end, successful. Through this happy ending, viewers have a positive image of the brand.


Brand storytelling isn't just for big brands, smaller businesses can use these techniques just as effectively. 

For more great information about storytelling techniques and other topics, download our e-book: "Creating a 2017 Video Marketing Strategy".

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Topics: Video, Marketing, Content Marketing