“The best brands are built on great stories.”

Ian Rowden, CMO, Virgin Group

Decoding Modern Marketing


While the brand creation process requires creative thinking, it is not a creative process in and of itself. Most of the creative work is done as you activate the brand and take it to market. However, it is also important to be conscious, even at this early stage, of the power of stories.

The human condition is about stories. Our cultural memories are stories handed down. Our personal lives are stories told and retold. Our very humanity is explained and understood with stories.


As you create your brand identity it is therefore valuable to be thinking in terms of stories. We all share in the arc of life and its common experiences and our stories invariably reflect these timeless truths. The authenticity that a brand should strive for can therefore be enhanced by shaping it into a story that resonates on an archetypal human level.

Guinness tells stories where consumers can identify with the characters and values they hold. One commercial shows a bartender who leaves a pint of Guinness at an empty table every night. Night after night the table remains empty and the barmaid scares off anyone eyeing the empty chairs. We don’t know who it’s for until at last a solder returns home to find his Guinness. The commercial ends with the line “The choices we make reveal the true nature of our character.”

Brand stories take many shapes and forms. One of the most familiar, and perhaps powerful, is the brand tagline. When many people think about branding they not only think logos, but also taglines. That’s because taglines are one of the ways we remember brands. They are representative of the brand identity you craft, but the tagline usually captures only part of the brand idea. Taglines can lean towards any of the fundamental brand attributes, but more often than not they reflect positioning of one type or another. Despite that, the best taglines contain the essence of the brand story.


U.S. Army: Be all you can be

Miller Lite: Great Taste, Less Filling

Budweiser: For all you do, this Bud’s for you

Burger King: Have it your way

Avis: We’re #2. We try harder