Storytelling Your Brand with Strategy and Heart


Storytelling requires time and inspiration. However, if you’re short on either, turn to creative giants. For example, combining the strategies of Pulitzer-prize-winning journalist Jacqui Banaszynski and the storytelling techniques of filmmaker Andrew Stanton will provide a 15-point tip sheet.

More than a decade ago, Banaszynski mapped eight ways to tell a story. Her strategy remains relevant today, even as technology changes at a dizzying pace. Ask any of these questions, and you’ll find a storyline.

  1. Who are the characters, places, and events behind a story? Choose one and create a profile.
  2. How does something work? Why does it happen? Explain by showing your audience.
  3. Is there something big behind your story? Maybe it’s a trend or issue.
  4. Do you see a story with scenes, tensions, and structure (beginning, middle, and end)? Then you have a narrative.
  5. Does a special moment stir interest? It might act as a short alternative to a narrative.
  6. Can you find a unique perspective? Does a roundtable of voices tell a story?
  7. Can you relate a tale in the blink of an eye? Visual storytelling works with photographs, illustrations, infographics, gifs, short video, and Vines.
  8. What about an opportunity to dig deep into documents and summarize something complicated? Take a cue from investigative journalists.


Once you have a strategy, follow through on delivery. Filmmaker Andrew Stanton offers seven clues that transform a story from good to great:

  1. Make a promise.
  2. Have a theme.
  3. Use what you know.
  4. Make your audience care.
  5. Head for one resolution.
  6. Know your punchline.
  7. Create a sense of wonder.

Making the most of storytelling techniques will power up your content with humanity.



  1. Karen Lin

    Great lists!!!! How’s this one I just sent to a newsletter I write for?
    It’s not the entire article… just the list:
    It’s common for a careful writer to have a beta reader or two peek at her book before she sends it to agents or editors or out for self-publishing.

    It helps your reader to know what you are concerned about. Below are some questions you might want to ask so you can get actionable feedback on your book:

    – Did you feel drawn into the story?
    – Did anything bug you?
    – What’s the one word you’d use to describe each character?
    – Who was your favorite character?
    – Favorite scene?
    – On which page do you think you know what the story will be about?
    – Did the story grip your attention right away?
    – What do you wish were different in chapter one?
    – What’s your favorite Chapter?
    – Where did you skim?
    – Why?
    – What do you feel the arc of each character was?
    – Was that satisfying?
    – Where did you cringe?
    – Why?
    – Where did you cry/gasp/laugh?
    – Why?
    – What was too predictable?
    – Where?
    – What do you consider the dark moment?
    – Were you satisfied by the end?
    – Why?
    – Would you want to read the next book?

    You’ll notice there are many whys… that’s because it’s much more helpful to know WHY something is good or bad so you can go back and do more or less of that thing.

      1. Bea dM

        Many thanks for mentioning it! Your question stumped me. Inspiration is haphazard, so it made me review my list of posts – I started less than a year ago, so it’s still do-able 🙂 Helpful question, as I’m trying to figure how to proceed with somewhat more of a focus 🙂

      2. Karen Lin

        Feel free to use it. If you want more of the article, I’m not beholden to anybody to keep it exclusive. Feel free to email about it if you are interested in having the whole thing, I can attach it to you.

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