January 11, 2018

What's Your Story?

Recently, we were fortunate to meet with Bill Pasnau. Bill is a Guide for StoryBrand and he walked us through their marketing philosophy. I immediately fell in love (with StoryBrand, not Bill, although he is great). StoryBrand, as the name implies, encourages you to craft not only a good story, but the right story.


Every brand needs customers, making every brand one half of a relationship. Every relationship is a story. The epiphany I had while sitting across from Bill is that many of us (design and marketing folks) are telling the wrong half of the story; the brand story. Savvy brands are telling the customer’sstory. To use StoryBrand’s lingo, the customer is the hero of the story and the brand is their guide, helping them reach their goal. And that’s how it should be.


Apple knows this. Look at their commercials. Battery life, storage capacity, UI, etc. are never mentioned. They are telling a story about you. In this commercial, we follow a girl through her day. She chats with friends, takes photos, writes a story, illustrates a fabulous octopus, and reads a comic while bee-bopping through the city. All with the help of her iPad Pro (the guide). We are charmed by her and we relate to her and we wonder about how an iPad would fit into our own story where we are the hero.


That’s the best part. Everybody has a story, and the coolest part of being a designer is getting to tell them. Every client is a new story we get to experience. Every client has a customer which means another story that needs to be told. (And I get to do that every day, I freaking love my job.)


If you want to check out more great examples of brand’s telling great stories, here are a few of my favorites:

  • Subaru is killing it with their ads, from the Share the Lovecampaign to this gem where we watch a young man pack for college (makes me cry every. single. time.).
  • Farmer’s Insurance Hall of Claims commercials are all great. Here’s a sample from this campaign; watch them all for a chuckle.
  • Mailchimp does a great job with storytelling on their website, focusing on your brand, your message and your needs.


Whether or not you have a professional firm helping you tell your story, pay attention to what you are putting out there. Are you telling the story you want to tell? Are you the hero or the guide? Will your customers recognize themselves in the narrative you’ve written?


Bottom line: don’t tell your customers about what makes you great, tell them a story about how great their lives will be with you as their guide. A good story is priceless. Think about this as you craft yours and make it a great one.

Photo of Valecia Hopper

Valecia Hopper, Thinker and Maker at Fifth Letter, is a neurotic bookworm with a dirty sense of humor. She likes helping others and finding creative solutions to problems. Contact Valecia at