5 Storytelling Techniques From Films To Make Your Brand Remarkable

Deep seated brand storytelling is equal part an art and learned technique. Once one of my friends said once, how can one create stories about products that someone else makes? How can we make them authentic, he asked. Stories that stay with us do not necessarily need to come from the people who make the product themselves. Like they said once, the best films on America are not made by Americans, talking about Sam Mendes’s American Beauty. Remarkable brands tell stories that connect and create immersive experiences for consumers by going a level up in abstraction. That’s a skill and an art. Here are 5 storytelling techniques from films and literature to keep you inspired!

5 storytelling techniques

5 Storytelling Techniques From Films To Make Your Brand Remarkable

There is a very popular adage in literature that there are only seven different stories. Every work of fiction is basically a variation of one of these seven basic plots. This may be an exaggeration but what it basically means is that the techniques to create a remarkable brand story matter. A true brand storyteller must be able to get the consumers intrigued and make them emotionally involved in the proceedings and care for the products. So, let us have a look at a few classic storytelling techniques that can help you develop intriguing narratives for your brand.

1. Storytelling Techniques: In Media Res (Latin: In the midst of things)

This is the most potent and widely used convention that defies traditional storytelling. Here, you do not start at the beginning but open the story somewhere in the middle. It helps you by capturing immediate attention of the audience as it starts when the action is at its peak. After that you can slow down to tell your back story and they will still stick by it. But if you start slowly with the back story at first, their reaction might not be the same. For instance, in the film Usual Suspects, we start with the interrogation after the crime, which sucks us into the story and then it flashes back to the starting point.

2. Storytelling Techniques: Red Herring

One of the best ways to make a story interesting is to mislead the audience for a while, only to reveal the truth later on in order to amuse, surprise and relieve them. A red herring is basically an element that makes the audience develop a false idea regarding the story. For instance, when you are telling your brand story, you can lead people to believe how something was going to fail and it all looked so gloomy till there was a twist and it was hunky-dory again.

3. Storytelling Techniques: McGuffin

It is a traditional element in thrillers where the plot revolves around one major object (such as the ring in The Lord of the Rings). Even when you talk of your brand, you can weave the story around your most important innovation or offering and develop other narratives around it. This way, people will also get to know what you specialize in and educate them about the important features of your primary offering. It is also the easiest to pull off as you know exactly what to focus on and everything else you say must be directed towards the McGuffin. Check this story by Hyundai, talking about “auto emergency brakes” as the sole feature in this very emotional Super bowl ad. Dad, and Hyundai save the day.

4. Storytelling Techniques: Foreshadowing

It is an ominous technique that hints at the future to come. It does not clearly state what will happen but offers a vague idea to keep people interested. This is a good way to keep the options open and introduce a plot twist and catching the audience off guard, later on. For instance, in Game of Thrones they keep saying that the “Winter Is Coming” but there are multiple implications of the same. We will never know the full extent of it until it actually happens but nevertheless we are hooked and always waiting for the next episode. 

5. Storytelling Techniques: Hyperlinking

Many highly acclaimed modern films such as Pulp Fiction, Amores Perros, Magnolia and Crash have employed this technique of telling multiple interconnected stories. You can also try this out to infuse novelty in your own story and deliver the variety of multiple stories in one. For instance, if there are four founders of a company, you can start with their respective back stories, till fate brings them together to build the said company. Many “real moment” ads which look like user generated content are featured these days by brands bringing together many stories/moments all connected by a single product. This father’s day advert by Oral B is an example.

 What storytelling techniques have you employed?

Credits: Cat image via Flickr

Enakshi Sharma

Digital Storyteller at Brandanew
Enakshi is a storyteller, curator (India Art Fair, 2015), anchor (May Queen, 2015), research associate (Centre for Civil Society, India), a travel writer and a blogger. She's a Digital Storyteller for Brandanew.