Storytelling For Profit: How These Five Brands Do It Right Businesses can use storytelling to propel themselves toward success.

By Hafiz Muhammad Ali

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Storytelling has long been a weapon in the arsenal of non-profits. In order to raise money for worthy causes, they tell the stories of the people they serve, the impact they make, and what would happen if they didn't exist. They show us pictures of war-torn countries, mentors and students, and children receiving medical care. But non-profits aren't the only ones using storytelling to propel themselves toward success. More and more large companies are realizing that storytelling needs to be an integral part of their marketing. They understand that in an increasingly crowded market, they can set themselves apart using the emotional power of stories.

Here are 5 well-known companies using the power of story to dominate their markets.

Warby Parker
Not only does the company know how to make great glasses, they've also mastered the art of storytelling. Their origin story tells of their humble beginnings as students losing glasses:

Every idea starts with a problem. Ours was simple: glasses are too expensive. We were students when one of us lost his glasses on a backpacking trip. The cost of replacing them was so high that he spent the first semester of grad school without them, squinting and complaining.

The backstory adds an incredibly human touch to the company. They're not just glasses makers. They're a company begun by people trying to solve a really common problem. And they weren't started by another big company, they were created by a couple students.

Whole Foods
The organic grocery store is another company that has perfected the art of storytelling. They understand that their brand is more than just food- it's a lifestyle. Their customers are people who care deeply about health, the environment, sustainability, and preserving our resources.

Whole Foods understands that in order to promote their brand, they need to tap into the things that truly motivate and inspire their customers. Their Values Matter video series is an example of powerful brand storytelling. Showing the lives and communities of Norwegian fisherman, they demonstrate their commitment to sustainability.

Blue Apron
Blue Apron knows that their customers are primarily busy families who care about eating well and living sustainably. They know that their customers probably don't have time to cook outstanding, healthy meals, but really want those types of meals. Therefore, they craft stories that appeal to these particular desires. On their vision page, they go into great detail about all the ways they're creating delicious meal delivery kits in a sustainable fashion. They talk about their passion for high-quality, organic foods that promote health. They extol the need for sustainable farming techniques that will improve the environment, and they explain how they've eliminated the middleman and are reducing waste.

Thanks to their storytelling prowess, customers can enjoy Blue Apron and feel good about themselves. Blue Apron uses stories to show how their company aligns with the customers' values.

Spotify knows that we love stories that are about us. They know that, ultimately we want to be part of the story. That's why we purchase certain products. They allow us to tell a story about who we are and what we love.

With this in mind, Spotify took the millions of data points available to them and created an interactive microsite geared toward college students. The site lets the students see which schools like songs that are full of energy vs. acoustic, what genres are popular at various schools, and even the playlists get the most airtime. Spotify is using the power of storytelling to get customers more engaged with their product and to give them a sense of ownership over their music tastes.

Apple has long been known for the beautiful, compelling stories they tell. These stories are not just advertisements, they're invitations to a better life. They use the power of story in an effort to convince us that Apple products can and should play an essential part in our lives.

For example, when the iPad Air released, they created a commercial featuring the voice of Robin Williams from Dead Poets Society and videos of people using the iPad to capture beautiful things in nature. The ad was an invitation to experience the world with Apple products.

Or take the commercial they created for the introduction of FaceTime. It told the stories of families connecting over long distances in order to share beautiful things together- babies crawling, students graduating, and first glimpses of a sonogram. It tugged at the heartstrings while also brilliantly promoting the iPhone.

Apple knows that we don't primarily purchase products because of raw information, but for emotional reasons, and they seek to tap into this with their stories.

Don't Neglect The Power Of Story
When you use stories to promote your brand, you are helping customers feel like they're not just purchasing a product but are part of something bigger. People aren't just shopping at Whole Foods, they're saving the environment. They're not just buying an iPad, they're experiencing the world.

Stories allow you to subtly, yet effectively slip past people's objections and touch on the motivations that lie beneath. If you can do that, you're on the path to success.

Related: Three Steps To Master Visual Storytelling

Hafiz Muhammad Ali

Entrepreneur, Author, PhD in Entrepreneurship

Hafiz Muhammad Ali is an entrepreneur, founder of Omnicore, author of Digital Passport. With a PhD in entrepreneurship, his is a firm believer in lifelong learning. He is passionate about sharing his knowledge, experience and opinion on digital marketing, leadership, entrepreneurship and innovation. Ali invests in books and people.

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