Free the birds

Channeling the power of storytelling

Paul explores the world of brand storytelling and why it’s vital that brands make the story count

Apart from giving customers a reason to buy a product, storytelling has the unique power to shift people’s perspectives by weaving together facts and emotions to communicate the real soul of a brand. Particularly in a world reigned by clickbait, storytelling is vital for setting brands apart and enabling deeper connections with consumers.

We start every project by creating a manifesto that tells the story of the brand. This is then used by our designers to guide and inspire their ideas and creative direction.

Placing storytelling at the heart of our work allows us to unlock a wealth of opportunities to share and shift perspectives of the brand, whether that’s bringing their products to life in surprising and memorable new ways, guiding consumers to think about a category in a whole new way, or using storytelling to completely reimagine a brand and align it with contemporary values.

Bringing new relevance to a heritage brand

We recently worked with iconic children’s toothpaste brand Punch & Judy and retold their story to appeal to modern audiences. The brand’s old narrative, dating back to the 17th century, focused on the outdated Punch & Judy characters that many people today associate with aggression and domestic violence.

We used the power of storytelling to completely reframe the narrative, re-casting its characters as a modern family with a funny and warm-hearted dad, a busy yoga-loving mum, an adventurous baby, and a friendly crocodile with a gleaming smile. Crucially, we retained the theatrical heritage of the brand in the design, allowing parents to draw on the story-telling potential of the characters and scenes on the packaging to engage children when the time comes to brush their teeth.

Disrupting a crowded category

The vitamins, minerals and supplements market is overcrowded with a lot of promises, but little differentiation. When working with Hello Day, a promising new entrant to the category, we knew we had to create a product philosophy that would disrupt the category and capture the imagination of consumers.

Our solution was to build a story around seasonal cycles of health and well-being, which the Hello Day products are designed to improve. We created a set of bold and optimistic circular designs, linking science and nature cues, for the subscription boxes that arrive at the start of each new season. This not only visually differentiated the brand from competitors, but it also underlined the ongoing and unique role the brand plays in supporting people’s health and wellbeing all year round.

Making a brand feel more human

In a new campaign for celebrated Swiss lighting company, Regent Lighting, we brought a new, more ‘human’ feel to the brand by telling the story of its philosophy of always putting people first.

The unifying idea of ‘People Light Our Way’ reframed their century-long history as a people-inspired progression of creating and innovating products that genuinely reflect the needs, environments and states of mind of their customers.

This was brought to life with photography of real people who have been the catalyst for our ideas in lighting: from designers and architects, through to schoolchildren. On social media, this storytelling then grew with the stories of the products and of the people who had been pioneers in using light to shape the world.

Communicating pioneering ideas and values

The Girls’ Day School Trust (GDST), a network of independent girls’ schools in the UK, was originally founded in 1872 by a group of pioneering women who believed girls should have equal access to education. However, over time, the organisation’s powerful and united sense of purpose had been diluted.

We created a new manifesto and brand identity for the network that re-energised the founding spirit and philosophy of the GDST, giving it a fresh, new relevance in the world of education. Our work culminated in a film that united girls from the 25 member schools around the country with the inspiring story of the GDST’s history, powerfully brought together with the tagline ‘Twenty-five schools. One family. One spirit.’ Telling this story positioned GDST as the authority when it comes to realising and nurturing the potential of girls and confidently differentiated it in the increasingly pressured sector of independent education.

Key Take Outs

Own your truth. Campaigns that revolve around true stories and the lessons that can be learnt from those stories will engage people more.

Be relatable. Remember, people process information through their own cultural and social filters. So, it’s important to create relatable stories to drive long-term positive associations among consumers.

Keep it simple. The mainstream consumer won’t be interested in your marketing messaging, but the benefits of your product or service. Hence, imaginative and non-jargon language will have a better chance at capturing the reader and reflecting your brand’s story.

Entertain your customers. The fact is your product probably isn’t as interesting as you think it is. So, make the story count. Consumers build notable associations with brands that evoke positive emotions, so entertaining them is key.


Paul’s article was featured in CreativeBrief