Storytelling, it isn't what you think

First, a question. When someone says "use storytelling in business" what comes to mind?

We find that people usually think of it regarding these sorts of things:

  • Answer the question "What's our story?"
  • Define the story for our product
  • Be better at telling our customer's stories
  • Open a presentation with a story
  • Craft a presentation as a story, weaving in product content
  • Include more stories in content
  • Create business content as if Dr. Seuss made it

OK, so the last one is a joke.

The list isn't exhaustive.

None of this list is technically wrong. OK, perhaps the Dr. Seuss one.

These are all artifacts of storytelling in business.

Focusing on the artifacts misses something critically important.

That's why storytelling isn't what you think it is.

"Story" is a label for how we hear, capture, ingest and repeat information.

If you grasp that and understand the formula of story you can apply it in all sorts of ways.

You can use the power of story in everything from communication to how you design your products.

Let's play a little game.

Forget for a moment that the word 'story' even exists.

Imagine there are no novels, no movies, no poems, no anecdotes, no metaphors, no raconteurs.

Even with all this stripped way our brain still needs the following to communicate:

  1. People involved
  2. What went wrong, challenges: the resulting conflict, suspense, or tension
  3. An outside influence that helps the people or person through
  4. What was learned by overcoming the challenge (unless it's tragic and not overcome)

Now revisit this list through the eyes of your company. How does it look?

  1. Customers
  2. Problems facing customers (resulting in an unmet, or unresolved need)
  3. You, your product, or service
  4. Messaging that talks about the benefits of your product

As business people, we run the risk of only focusing on the last two items (#3 & #4).

Even when we initially start with customer focus it's easy to slip into talking about ourselves.


When you use story in business, it can manifest in artifacts like customer stories (aka case studies), brand narratives, story-driven presentations and more.

Why does this matter? Well, have you ever had trouble landing your message?

The value of storytelling is that it helps us communicate.

It helps us land the message, and for the message to spread.

Don't approach storytelling in business as if you were writing War and Peace.

Do consider how you structure your content in a way that maps to how the human brain works.

Our brains are hardwired for storytelling. It's a part of who we are. As much as talking or breathing.

The challenge is how you use these universal truths about who we are to benefit your business.

Start with story structure. The artifacts will follow.

We're here to help.

On to the links!

First up:

Geek out on how the brain works (yes, it involves storytelling)


More science on this amazing subject!


Some practical examples of applying storytelling to content marketing

Go Narrative is a marketing consultancy that assists business leaders in technology firms to build and implement advanced marketing strategies. Our secret sauce is storytelling for business growth and transformation. We can help you cut through the noise and improve your reputation. We love helping business leaders understand, use and apply storytelling in business via writing, presentations, video, strategy and actionable plans. Get attention. Be heard. Sell more. | eBook available at |

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