Storytelling: The Old Yet New Frontier

There is a paradigm shift occurring in how brands connect with people. Gone are the days of direct mail print ads, 30-second radio spots, produced television commercials, and simple sales discounts. Of course these tactics are still prevalent, but they are dyeing. In a recent study conducted by Deloitte the Millenial generation is anticipated compose 75% of the total workforce by the year 2025. Millenial’s are different. They are not susceptible to same old tactics marketing tactics that have influenced people to buy products and services over the past 80 years. Millenial’s value authenticity, experience, and want to connect with brands that have a goal in changing the world for the better. I am sure you are wondering to yourself why, and how am I supposed to reach these people if the same old tactics no longer work? Well, let’s talk about it.

What Changed?

What changed is the real question that brands need to be asking in order to understand how Millenial’s perceive business. It really all boils down to what we will call the “Decade of Mistrust”. Between the years of 2000 – 2010, most Millenial’s were in their formative years as many systems in the U.S and globally that were once thought to be stable began to break down. 2001 saw 9/11 and the official rise of global terrorism. 2001 also saw the start of great mistrust in business with the collapse of Enron. In 2002, the U.S entered into the Iraq war under the guise of “fighting terrorism” and destroying Weapons of Mass Destruction (which were proven to not exist). In 2005, Millenial’s witnessed thousands of people become homeless and left to fend for themselves in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The government that was meant to support these people in the wake of a disaster did not act. In, 2008 the U.S entered into worst economic recession since The Great Depression and witnessed hundreds of thousands of more people lose their homes due to the housing bubble crisis. Business and big banks were the ones to blame for deceiving people and the government did not act. The only two positive things that came out of this decade was the launch of Facebook in 2006 and the release of the iPhone in 2007. These two things alone changed history forever by allowing everyone to be connected over the internet using a device in the palm of their hand. Using these tools Millenial’s were given the power to start seeing the truth of world events beyond what the media reported. This is what changed. The Millenial generation has a tough time trusting big business, and really can you blame them?

How Marketing Is Shifting

If the old ways of connecting people with brands don’t work anymore then what will? The answer: authenticity. In this day and age the mistrust of business and corporations runs rampant. We have reached a point with the internet and social media where we can see through the shams of typical brand messaging. The commercial may say that a brand is honest, true, and strives to make a difference, however the raw and unfiltered nature of social media may prove otherwise; and the social media is typically right. Instead of being told what to buy, what store to go to, or how to get the best deal, people want to see authenticity and be driven to make a decision through an honest and emotionally charged experience. If someone can experience a brand beyond the pictures, text, and produced video to see if they practice what they preach, people are more inclined to connect with that brand and purchase products or services from them.

Storytelling. This Is The Answer.

Since ancient times humans have been fascinated by stories. When being told a story, many of our mental guards are brought down as we begin to immerse ourselves in the experience emotionally. This is at the core of what drives Millenial’s to connect with a brand. It is these stories that remove those barriers of mistrust and allows people to truly experience a brand’s message. This is the approach that brands need to take in the new age of marketing. Tell your brand’s story, or better yet, tell the stories of the people that make your brand tick. Here are some tips about how to create an effective story for your brand:

  • Ask yourself: Why does your company exist? What goals are you trying to achieve to better your customers and the world?
  • Use your mission as the basis for your story. Always link your story back to your mission!
  • Reveal what inspires your customers, your organizational hopes, and how you’re helping customers.
  • Stay consistent with personality, tone, and purpose. Do you sound like the brand in your messaging?
  • Get your customers and employees to talk about your brand. Get their stories while making sure that they are honest and unfiltered.
  • Let your employees and customers’ stories become a part of your brand.
  • Remember: Transparency, Transparency, Transparency!
  • The new influencer of brands is people. Not print ads.

Many companies are starting to recognize and master the art of storytelling to connect with people. Google has been practicing this for for a long time and you can watch how they masterfully invoked emotion while staying true to their brand here.

Where Do I Go From Here?

It may seem scary at first trying to completely shift the conventional way of thinking when it comes to marketing for brands. However, consumer preferences, specifically Millennial preferences, have changed whether we accept it or not. It is more crucial now than ever before that brands begin to internalize the old adage “Practice what you preach”. Consumers are being driven by experience and authenticity. Bring it to them; maybe you will discover something different about your brand in the process.


Nick Myers is a Partner at RedFox Creative. For more information, or to leave a comment send an email to



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