The Power of Storytelling


I can bet that you are imagining a paperback that you might enjoy on your next beach holiday while you sip from your glass of martini. Or something, a fable or a tale, that you have listened to while growing up. If you are from India, then you surely know how storytelling has been an integral part of our childhood and culture.

We all grew up listening to stories. As a child, mythology fascinated me. While I grew up with the stories of freedom fighters and their hardships, the stories of thought leaders who transformed society despite multiple obstacles inspired me a lot. Most of the time, the personal stories touch a chord inside my heart. And why wouldn't it? Personal stories have an emotional connection and authenticity. They are weaved into cultural and social contexts to inspire and empower people. These stories connect people to their heroes or the ones they look up to. That is why personal stories work so well.

Even though we have come so far, in terms of technology and innovations, the appeal of stories is still undeniable. Now, if you are a leader who wants to inspire people or a brand that wants to connect more with potential customers, you need to be a master storyteller.

The Role of Stories in My Life

I grew up listening to stories about my grandfather. He used to live in Fateh Jung in undivided India, and his workplace was in Peshawar. He used to run brick kilns in Peshawar in those days. During the partition, he left his home and business in Pakistan and came to India with the family to start from scratch. Little did Pitaji (as I lovingly called my grandfather) know back then that his stories of business, hard work, and dedication were actually planting the seed of becoming an entrepreneur in my mind. That is the power of storytelling.

Some of the Best Brand Storytelling

We all remember the famous Cadbury ad where a girl sits in the gallery watching a cricket match and bites on a Cadbury with a worried face. And the moment, the batsman strikes an over boundary, she comes down on the ground, dodges the umpire, and does a crazy dance on the pitch. How many women in the 90s actually found that one ad so fun, fresh, and inspiring that they also dreamed of doing something like that? In fact, her dance became so famous that people mimicked it even much later. That was a great story, I think. Women are often believed to be far from sports. This preconceived notion gets swiped away by this one ad, where this girl shows that women not only understand sports but can also celebrate them with equal enthusiasm as men, if not more. And what better way to do so than with Cadbury?

Today, the Patanjali brand has become very popular in India. If you see, they do not invest so much in brand advertising. But they caught the attention of Indian buyers with their storytelling. Modern Indian consumers are shifting more towards products that are authentic, natural, anti-cruelty, vegan, and organic. Patanjali has told them the story of the revival of our ayurveda and how that can help in healing and wellbeing. That did the trick.

So, as you can see, the story of the brand or the story in the content should be engaging and inspiring so that the audience falls in love with your brand.

How to be a Master Storyteller

The tips that I am going to share now are time-tested ones. So, pay attention to them and try to implement them where you can.

  • Choose your character. What are you? Are you a friend, an ally, or an authentic source of knowledge? Choose who you want to be depending on the buyer’s personality.
  • Connect to emotions. Today’s purchase decisions are just about brand loyalty. Connect with emotions.
  • Be original. When your competitors are crowding your potential customers, your originality will make you stand out.
  • Finally, know when to stop. A storyteller does not ask the listeners to come back again; the listeners go back for the stories.

Storytelling and influencing people are about creating an authentic narrative that makes your audience feel adequate. Those who follow you should feel, "If this man can, we can too." That is how to tell a story, and that is how you lead.

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