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Why storytelling is the ultimate weapon for brands. #WeFirst

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Social Branding and Storytelling


In just a few short years, social media has grown into a tremendously powerful marketing tool.  However, as the old saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility.  The proliferation of the digital bazaar has amplified consumer voice, allowing users to directly influence the public perception of a brand.

In many cases, this is a boon to marketers, who can rely on these brand ambassadors to extoll the virtues of their favorite brands and directly influence the buying decisions of other members of their networks.  As easy as it is for someone to sing the praises of a brand, consumers are perhaps even more willing to share their negative experiences with those same online communities.  And, unfortunately for the brands on the receiving end, the negative messages tend to gain traction much more quickly than the positive ones.

The Power of Story

Social brands must become experts at telling their unique brand stories, and they must learn to do so in a way that is both relatable and authentic.  The brands most successful at relating to their consumer base will not only gain tremendous cultural capital, they will build their cache of another invaluable stock: forgiveness.

Melinda Partin, in her Fast Company article “Brand Storytelling: Connecting with Your Audience,” observed this important trait of brand storytelling: “Apple has clearly done the best job in winning over the hearts and minds of users.  But the company’s phones can be buggy, and they don’t do all things well.  However, the form factor and user interface design, the application innovations and the philosophy of the company have created such a powerful story that people want to be a part of it.”

Cultural Capital Through Social Responsibility

To help users identify with a brand’s message, Partin adds, those brands must understand how their products can fit into their consumers’ lives.  Having a flashy product simply isn’t enough in today’s globally connected, socially conscious community.

Smartest Brands

As Simon Mainwaring, Founder of the social branding consultancy We First, explains, the brands most successful at telling their own stories have found a way to integrate their products and their messages with social responsibility. This approach, which Simon calls “contributory consumption,” helps brands to align their values with those of their consumers.  Such an approach is not only the right thing to do, but it will pay dividends in cultural capital down the road.

Too often, brands forget to focus on effective storytelling, and end up broadcasting their schizophrenia loud through the channels of social media and confusing their audience in the process. The smartest marketers connect with their purpose for doing business and share the story of that purpose with a consistent brand identity and effective use of the tools of the social business marketplace. One of the foremost authorities out there today on storytelling and brand identity is Simon Mainwaring, Founder of the social branding firm, We First. Simon has spent his career crafting strategic storytelling for Fortune 100 brands including Nike, Coca-Cola, Toyota and Motorola, receiving over sixty international advertising awards at the Cannes Advertising festival, US One Show and British D&AD, among others.

Simon just released a complimentary training series on social branding, and I wanted to share it with you. I think it may change the way you do business completely. Here’s a link, JUST CLICK HERE to start the series now.

Posted by on Oct 16, 2012 in Branding, Communication, Content Marketing, Employee Branding, Marketing, Social Business, Social Media Marketing | 2 comments


Cheryl Burgess
Cheryl Burgess (@ckburgess) helps clients transform their brands from the inside out by implementing strategic social business initiatives that empower social employee engagement and advocacy, and social executive leadership. She is the co-author of best selling book, The Social Employee, (McGraw-Hill, 2013) that includes success stories from IBM, AT&T, Dell, Cisco, Southwest Airlines, and Adobe, hailed by management guru, Tom Peters as his favorite #1 social business book. Burgess is a special advisory board member for The Economist Intelligence Unit, research arm of The Economist Group. She is listed as “Forbes Top 5 Influential CMOs” - 2014, “Top 40 Social Selling Marketing Masters”; Forbes “Must-Follow Marketing Minds – 2014”; #7 Top CMOs on Twitter, and named by Huffington Post as a social media “Passionista.” She is a contributor to Harvard Business Review - Italia, and expert blogger for and Cheryl is a regular speaker at industry events, most recently at Social Business Forum 2014 – Milan, Italy, IBM Connect 2014, Dell World 2013 & 2014, Integrated Marketing Week NYC -2014, Pivotcon - NYC, Rutgers Business School, AT&T, and KPMG. She is a contributor to the Wharton Future of Advertising 2020. Her company’s blog, Blue Focus Marketing®, won the MarketingSherpa 2012 Reader’s Choice Award for Best Social Media Marketing Blog. She is the winner of six Twitter Shorty Awards in Marketing. In 2011, she co-founded the #Nifty50 Top Men & Women on Twitter Awards. Follow her on Twitter at @ckburgess, @SocialEmployee and @BlueFocus. Google+


  1. You make such a good point that “brands must understand how their products can fit into their consumers’ lives.” Thanks for the reminder.


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