Simon Says

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A tin of assorted christmas cookies on a wooden surface.

He had gotten used to the long bus ride home from the nursing home. And while he usually made the trip on Saturdays, his aunt was being transferred to palliative care this weekend, so he wanted to be sure he saw her before that.

He had picked a seat towards the back, alone. Shifting uncomfortably on the hard plastic surface, he carefully balanced the cookie tin his aunt had given him on his lap.

Even as his aunt’s appetite had waned over these last several months, she had continued to order the cookie tins online, and delighted in handing out treats to fellow residents, staff members, and, of course, him, her only relative who visited regularly. He always left with a baked good in his hand and a new story about his family heritage that filled gaps in his heart he never realized existed.    

A gust of winter’s crippling cold wind burst through the small crack at the top of the window and with it, a sharp pang in his stomach—he realized he hadn’t eaten since breakfast. A glance at his watch confirmed that there were 20 more minutes left in his journey home. Hungry, he sighed as he lifted the tin’s cover to reveal only a faded, yellow-lined sheet of notebook paper filled with fine, textbook-perfect cursive—it was his grandmother’s recipe for biscuits—the very one that had survived world wars, handed down from generation to generation, the family’s most prized possession.

Instantly, he was there. Eyes closed, standing in the kitchen at 205 Woburn Street, mixing bowls and flour dust everywhere, surrounded by extended family—all standing elbow to elbow awaiting his grandmother’s precise instructions. He takes his place two spots to her right, waiting patiently…patiently, to take the ball of dough, and cover it with the requisite two wool coats to help it rise—the most important step, according to her, and she chooses him for this critical task every time. The pride is palpable.

He is startled back to the present day, as the bus abruptly comes to a halt and the lid of the tin clangs noisily to the floor. He is home.

World Storytelling Day—the impact a good story can have on brands

The greatest stories we remember in our own lives transport us to moments we never want to forget and connect us to the people who shaped us into who we’ve become. From history’s earliest recorded moments in cave paintings to family recipes that get passed down from generation to generation, humans use storytelling to connect with one another. We are programmed to listen to stories, we are programmed to tell stories—and that’s why brand storytelling is such a powerful and essential force in content marketing.

can a good story increase product value?

Do you remember the Significant Objects experiment where researchers and writers looked at the potential impact storytelling could have on the perceived value of products?

The researchers bought cheap tchotchkes, for a total of $128.74, solicited the help of 200+ creative writers to write stories about the items, and sold them for a whopping total of $3,612.51.

According to their research, when a story was paired with an item, it increased the overall perceived value of the product by around 2,706%.

storytelling is a proven driver for success

Research shows that only 5% of people remember statistics, but 63% remember stories.1 In fact, the retention rate for information jumps from 5-10% to 65-70% when paired with a story.2

Telling stories in marketing is so effective because it establishes an emotional connection with your audience and makes your message memorable. Customers who like a brand’s story are 55% more likely to consider buying from the brand.3

Why? Because storytelling is an authentic way to help a buyer understand the essence of your brand, your brand’s values, and build trust that grows into loyalty.

every story starts with questions

One of the toughest challenges for marketers is to avoid the feature/function/benefit black hole, and instead craft answers to questions that shape your brand’s story (these will look familiar to anyone who has worked with the Storybrand framework):

  • Who is your customer (the hero) and what do they want?
  • What problems are they experiencing?
  • How can you (the guide) help them solve their problem?
  • Have you created a clear plan?
  • Who are the antagonists that may get in the way?
  • What does success/failure look like?

Finding these answers can be hard. Market research, persona development, understanding buyer journeys, developing content, and mapping it to appropriate media…these are all important to create an effective brand story that forms a connection with your target audience.

In a saturated market with little product feature differentiation, customers today don’t decide to buy based on what you’re selling but rather why you are selling it. A good brand story puts the “what” your product or service does into a narrative, with customers as the hero that use your product or tool to solve their biggest challenges. By connecting with your audience through storytelling and solving their pain points, you can build trust that turns customers into brand loyalists. 

what’s your story?

If we go back to our cookie tin story, you’re probably thinking your product is a lot more complex than anything a bakery could ever sell. But the complex nature of your business or product is irrelevant when creating your brand story. If done right, storytelling is the bridge that can demystify the complex and connect with customers. It does not center around the features and benefits your product or service provides, but how your offering makes your customer’s life better.  That’s the value every brand story needs to communicate.

If you’re wondering what your brand story looks like, you aren’t alone.

Over the last 30 years, we’ve been transforming our clients’ sense of wonder into strategic marketing solutions that elevate brands and resonate with audiences to drive businesses forward.

Let’s bring your sense of wonder to life. Get in touch & let’s see how we can craft a new brand story for your organization.

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Let’s bring your sense of wonder to life. Get in touch & let’s see how we can craft a new brand story for your organization.


  1. National Storytelling Network. Storytelling in data science. July 3, 2019. Accessed March 11, 2024.

  2. Forbes. How to tell a good story. December 11, 2013. Accessed March 11, 2024.

  3. Headstream. The power of brand storytelling. 2015. Accessed March 11, 2024.