Storytelling is designed to create relationships and gently persuade an audience into suspending their cynicism, to ‘buy in’ to an emotion or point of view. A good story has character, plot and resolution. It will also mirror the experiences and emotions of the audience in order to engage them. Brand stories will focus on the product, the vision or the user. Digital channels are particularly highly rated for user-related narrative.


Storytelling as a creative approach involves following the structure of traditional stories – it needs characters, a plot and a resolution. Storytelling is often used as a way to drive emotional appeal. More broadly, brand storytelling is the act of building stories around a brand.

Key insights

1. Storytelling is most often used for big occasion advertising

According to Kantar research, eight out of ten UK Christmas ads use a story, as opposed to just four in ten that use stories the rest of the year. This can be a story with epic production values that aims to capture hearts and minds and create distinctiveness, such as the successful John Lewis campaign. Equally a simpler, smaller scale approach can be just as effective if it creates emotional resonance through realistic and accessible stories. Looking at how best to use storytelling at Christmas - or other times of the year - Kantar advise brands to:

  • Be distinctive through a story which generates enjoyment to get attention and emotional affinity to position the brand positively
  • Be well branded through integration into the story or use of brand cues to ensure the ad is associated with the brand in the consumer’s memory
  • Be meaningful so that the advertising will contribute to building long term equity beyond the Christmas season
  • Be authentic to what the brand does