5 Simple Storytelling Tips to Create More Remarkable Ads

If you’re a marketer, you’ve mostly likely heard the spiel about the importance of telling your brand’s story. But telling the story of your brand’s roots, while still useful, may not be the best way to make your brand memorable anymore.

The truth of the matter is that brand stories are becoming so common, they really don’t make any one brand more unique than another. Yes, your brand story will help you build trust with your customers and retain their loyalty, but how do you capture their attention in the first place?

The answer? Storytelling. But not about your brand.

Why Stories?

Research shows that people retain stories better, and also that stories stimulate the brain and can even change how we act in our day to day lives. In fact, the brain doesn’t seem to distinguish between hearing about an experience and actually experiencing it in real life. In each case, the same neurological regions are stimulated.

Storytelling can keep your brand from seeming one-dimensional. It’s more than just a logo on a package or some ads on a website.

You can use stories to share more than just what you sell — such as your strengths, weaknesses, what you believe in, or how your product can affect others. Crafting a story creates real value in your brand, and is important to your brand’s perception.

Marketers and advertisers should focus on revamping their strategies by telling stories with their ads. Here are some brands that are using storytelling in their ads and what you can learn from them.

Tip 1: Use Humor

In an advertisement, humor can drive likeability and attention to the brand behind the ad. Audiences like to be entertained, not sold to. However, there’s a fine line between being genuinely funny and just another obnoxious ad with the typical go-to stupid funny humor.

Telling a funny story will not only make your customers laugh, but also help them remember it better and associate your brand with that feeling of amusement.

Example: Apple’s “Timer”

At one point, we’ve probably all been like Cookie Monster not-so-patiently waiting for something. Even though Apple’s Siri is a little more front and center in this commercial, it still tells a short story with a familiar character. Apple even released a behind the scenes look at Cookie Monster’s dilemma.

Most of Apple’s customer base is fairly young, and probably either grew up watching Sesame Street, or watched it with their kids. So Cookie Monster not only makes us laugh, but he also elicits a sense of nostalgia. For people who have grown up with Cookie Monster, he makes people feel at home and comfortable. By using his character, Apple wants to associate itself with those feelings, and the humor helps tie it all together.

Just remember that what’s funny to you might not be funny elsewhere, especially if you’re running a global campaign. The key is to use humor that your target audience will find funny.

Tip 2: Be Extra Creative

Unfortunately, ad fatigue is all too common, and it’s one of the main reasons most people are using ad blockers these days. A story in your advertisement gives you the freedom to be creative and come up with a unique ad that will stand out from the crowd.

Example: Nike’s “The Last Game”


Nike’s ad is creative in the way that it doesn’t feel like an ad at all; it feels like an animated short film that you might see before a Pixar movie.

Nike itself isn’t mentioned in the ad. Their signature swoosh is seen in the beginning and some of their products at the end, but that’s it. Throughout most of the video, the only relation the story has to Nike (other than the professional athletes) is the “risk everything” tagline. Instead of creating a typical ad, Nike took that tagline and created a story of heroic athletes around it.

Tip 3: Reflect Company Values

Normally, your brand story would be used to tell your customers about your company ethics and the values your brand believes in. But why not get more creative and use an advertisement to tell the story of what you value? Creating an “in-ad story” to bring awareness to your cause allows you to show customers, not just tell them, why it matters.

You can use a story in your advertisements to bring attention to and educate your viewers about a cause you stand behind.

Example: Chipotle’s “The Scarecrow”

Chipotle’s mission from the start of the company has been to find more natural and sustainable ways to produce food. Sure, they say that right on their website, but what will you remember better? An infographic taking you through all the ways Chipotle wants to help the environment, or a story about a scarecrow who is so distraught about the way our food is processed, he takes matters into his own hands?

Chipotle uses the story of the Scarecrow to go beyond just telling people why they should care. Instead, the story shows viewers a futuristic world that isn’t far off from the present world with processed food, severe animal confinement, the use of synthetic growth hormones, and the use of antibiotics and toxic pesticides.

And, to further the life of the story, “The Scarecrow” is actually a game viewers can download for their phones.

Tip 4: Show Your Human Side

Storytelling in your ads can be used to humanize your brand, which will elevate it beyond other brands. You can use your advertisement to tell a familiar human story that a lot of people can relate to.

A story that shares emotions and experiences with your customers makes your brand more relatable and can improve engagement, because those customers may then want to share it with others.

Example: Google’s “Dear Sophie”

As a giant search engine, it’s hard to ever see Google as “human” or feel any relatable connection to it.

That’s why this ad told a story about the people who use Google’s products. It broke down the walls between technology and humanity by telling the story of a father who set up an email account and used it as a virtual scrapbook that he would one day pass onto his daughter.

“Dear Sophie” is a basic human story, and it’s something that almost everyone can relate to, which creates a more human and emotional connection to the idea of using Gmail.

Tip 5: Tap Into Strong Emotions

Engaging human emotions is an infallible way to connect with customers on a deeper level. Emotions generally influence, and can even determine, the decisions we make. When we’re confronted with a decision, emotions from previous, related experiences will also affect the final decision.

Telling a story that engages those emotions is even more foolproof, because customers are more likely to remember it. Most of the time, people may not remember exactly what happened, but they do remember how they felt.

Example: Extra Gum’s “The Story of Sarah & Juan”

I might just be too much of a sucker for a cute story, but this didn’t feel like an ad at all. The story was heartfelt and realistic (who knew gum wrappers could be so romantic?), and while Extra gum was all throughout the video, it wasn’t the focus.

Still, I’ll never be able to purchase a pack of Extra spearmint gum again without thinking of Sarah and Juan. In fact, I might even skip over my usual choice and buy Extra just because it makes me think of the story told in the video.

That right there is exactly why storytelling is arguably the most powerful tool you can use in your advertisements. People remember stories better and feel a stronger attachment to those they can relate to. If you tell a relatable and emotional story with your brand or product subtly alongside it, people will associate your brand with that story and the emotions it elicited, whether they realize it or not.