A few weeks ago, ThoughtMatter Senior Copywriter Scott Muska and I had the privilege of speaking during Tech Tuesday as part of the Flatiron Partnership’s Summer Series on “Storytelling as a Branding Tool”. If you weren’t able to join us in person, here’s a recap of what we discussed:

Successful brands tell great stories. A well-formed, self-aware brand narrative can help elevate an organization, connect it with its audience and build consumer and client trust. When done right, a brand story can help drive your brand’s success.


Every good brand story should cover the basics: the origin, the market need, the brand’s values, what keeps them motivated, and authenticity. As an example, we discussed Shinola, a 21st century brand that makes luxury leather goods and watches.

But what if you knew Shinola was the 2011 revival of a respected former shoe polish company that shut in the 1960s? Or that the founder of the “new” Shinola believed American-made watches could rival the Swiss in craft and quality? That Detroit was purposefully chosen as the brand’s location to help revive the deteriorating economy, knowing former automotive workers had the experience of working with tools and machinery? That since 2011 it has grown to employ more than 600 workers and develop a community campaign that praises hardworking Americans and supports improving neighborhoods? This narrative gives more meaning and purpose to Shinola, allowing audiences to connect and trust the brand.

So once a brand has its story down, how and where can they tell it? Including it on an “About Us” page on the website is one thing, but how do you reach an audience that doesn’t know your website or doesn’t even know you exist?


Listed below are a few of our favorite examples of brands that have demonstrated their story in interesting ways to differentiate them from other brands in their respective categories and reach audiences.

AllBirds is a New Zealand casual shoe company that believes in simplicity, quality natural materials and environmental sustainability. With uncomplicated graphics and innovative shipping boxes that use 40% less materials than typical shoe shipping boxes, AllBirds utilizes visuals and packaging to demonstrate their brand story in a quick and approachable way.
With an all-inclusive co-op membership program, interactive store space and on-hand experts, outdoor clothing and gear brand REI creates an unforgettable retail experience to demonstrate its story – that anyone can share their love of the great outdoors.
Tired of the lack of innovation in the retail clothing space, Everlane founder Michael Preysman wanted to create a company that showed radical transparency. From breaking down the costs of materials, labor, shipping and other production needs, introducing “Choose What You Pay” options and sharing information about the people who work in its factories all around the world, Everlane brings its brand story to life through the transparent way it manages and operates.
theSkimm began as a daily email newsletter started by two 20-something friends and has evolved to a website, app and lifestyle brand. While providing its audience with digestible content ranging from world politics and sports to Netflix binge reviews, theSkimm’s Instagram will feature colleagues writing news stories late at night with white wine in hand and giving shout-outs to subscribers on their birthdays in the daily newsletter peppered with Emojis. The brand has formed a following and community to demonstrate its story, knowing that not everyone shares its founders’ passion for news but understanding the importance of having a news source that is accessible, approachable and inclusive.

Your brand story sets the foundation for building consumer trust, which in turn will drive success. A brand story that is consistent throughout platforms, authentic from the beginning and aware of its place in the world will connect with audiences.


While your brand may not be the next Google, Apple or Amazon, it can be the only one that does what you do.


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