Storytelling Is at the Heart of Every Great Brand

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Whether you are from the East or the West, the desire to tell and share stories that engage never fades. The power to communicate with audiences is through a captivating story that is richly threaded with brand values. While this is a main stay in Europe and the US, the picture is a little more varied in China.

In China, the narrative storytelling style is somewhat different from that in the West. Ancient books and texts often entice the reader by sharing fragments of the conclusions or ending. While tantalising, it means the reader is prepared for the journey ahead and has an inkling of what is to come.

The Western style structure means the reader is potentially kept in the dark until the final moments. The wait for the story climax or the sudden and dramatic plot twist at the end is what draws the reader. The events leading to the endings contextualises the narrative as a whole.

Despite this difference, brands are still able to create an enticing narrative, whatever their language

IKEA: An unusual Christmas (Italy)

The most interesting story

IKEA’s reputation for creating impact narratives which deeply reflect the company’s culture lives on even through to Christmas.

The Ads starts with two strangers casually grabbing the lift after making their purchases. Both men greet each other with a nod and judgmentally scan the other’s shopping purchases. Just as the lift begins to move, there is a sudden jolt and they are both stuck in the lift. Realising that their rescue will be slow, one man unfolds a chair and makes himself at home and offers the other man a biscuit. As the lights go out both men unpack more of their purchases and begin to create a mock living room, with lights, carpeting, an armchair, and tables. The ad ends with the statement “9 out of 10 people were at home for Christmas”, only for it to change to “7 out of 10”.

The viewer is gently guided throughout the ad with the characters purpose changing throughout. They begin as strangers only to end up being best buds and even giving each other a hug too. It shows the story of change, adaptability, and subtly, how quick and easy it is to transform space with IKEA.

Airbnb: Another way to live

The warmest story

Airbnb has set up a column on the official website to collect and publish stories between homes and travellers. These stories may be the touching stories, funny stories, or travel journals. What is common between them is their attitude towards life. How to live and enjoy a better life by learning how others use Airbnb also translates into their brand experience.


Airbnb's approach is different from that of IKEA. Airbnb does not create stories, but to carry stories related to its business and brand value. The stories that come out may not be pleasantly surprised, but they are slicker and more authentic. Building relationships with customers to build an approachable brand which also aligns with the company’s values.

Hillary: Role models (United States)

A story of principles

During the height of the 2016 US Presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton inventively and cleverly used the theme of ‘role models’ to highlight her values and brand image.

The ad shows young teens sitting at home intently focused on their TV screen watching speeches made by Donald Trump. We hear his now infamous tagline of how ‘Mexicans bring drugs’ into the US, and his impersonation of a disabled reporter at one of his rallies. His consistently crude ramblings merge into the silent living rooms of children watching and studying his words. The video ends “What kind of role model do you want to set up for your child?”. Poignant words, as what has transpired since 2016 is clearly the depth to which Trump has divided American politics and discourse.

The story plays upon the idea that words matter, and how they are said are also important. Leaders and public figures are moral characters and need to be selected on a broader set of ideals. Lofty ambitions aside, the tone is one that is different from traditional marketing campaigns as it highlights a broader and deeper theme.

Choosing the right tone and message for your brand can be a tall order, especially when you are going across continents. Make sure you are well prepared to tell your story in any language and to any person. Contact Comms8 to see how we can help your brand speak volumes across oceans.