June 26, 2017

Has Brand Storytelling Becoming A Tired Concept?

A confession: I’m ambivalent about storytelling.
Not about its power to engage, educate and entertain but how storytelling has lost its luster.
After a lot of thinking, I believe companies don’t really care about storytelling.


They want leads, conversions sales, and customers.
Storytelling is a nice-to-have but it’s not a need-to-have. It underscores marketing and sales but it has become table stakes, which is absolutely fine.
It is one of the reasons that I decided to back away from storytelling in my brand positioning.
Instead of storytelling being front and center, my key message is “I help fast-growing companies grow even faster”.

Storytelling is important but growth and sales are more important.

I haven’t abandoned storytelling. It still harnesses my messaging, brand positioning and marketing strategy services.
But storytelling is a supporting actor, not the star.
For me, the new positioning is an interesting but necessary turn of events.
In 2014, I published a book, “Storytelling for Startups” just as storytelling emerged as the greatest thing since, well, content marketing.
Everywhere you turned, brands were talking about creating narratives (yuck!) and telling stories.
HubSpot breathlessly declared that storytelling would be the biggest business skill over the next five years.
Robert McKee’s quote, “Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today”, became a corporate mantra.
As an ex-journalist, the embrace of storytelling was wonderful to see but also a curious development.
To me, telling stories has always been important to effectively communicate and engage with people.
It was like the corporate world stumbled upon something that many people had known for a long time.
Today, storytelling seems overdone.
High-profile marketers such as Jeff Bullis still talk about it, but it feels forced. It is like people feel compelled to do it to stay relevant.

Frankly, I’m tired of storytelling. As a marketer, it lacks resonance.

Yes, brands should tell stories but this is just how business happens.
Rather than talk about storytelling, it has to be part of the marketing and sales landscape.
As someone who enthusiastically embraced and promoted storytelling, maybe it’s not that sexy anymore.
My take is while brands recognize that stories are important, there are bigger fish to fry – driving sales, paying employees, keeping customers happy and investors pleased.
What do you think? Am I throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater?

I work with fast-growing companies looking to grow even faster with marketing that actually works.
My strategic and tactical services, which harness the power of storytelling, are driven by frameworks and processes to create strategic messaging, brand positioning, marketing strategies, and content.
If you want marketing that makes an impact, let’s talk.
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