Compelling Story

How to Create a Compelling Brand Story

Written byBen Johannemann
September 5, 2020

Your brand story is your calling card, but determining what to actually say is not always an easy choice to make. We’ve developed a tool to help you decide on what type of story to tell — and how best to bring it to life.

At FIG — as Storytellers for the Information Age, we firmly believe in the power of storytelling to help brands grow. Storytelling is a broad term made up of three main levers we can pull: Media, Message, and Execution. The last lever is incredibly powerful: it refers to the type of story we can choose to tell. To help our multidisciplinary team — and even our clients — decide, it’s helpful to have a shared conversation. That’s where the FIG Quad comes in, a simple tool to help us explore the options.

The Quad is meant to help us answer two big questions: 

  1. Is the story about our customer or is it about us?

  2. Is our story inspired by something happening in culture or our category, or our product? 

Each question becomes an axis we overlay to give us four different quadrants with their own rules and approaches to telling a brand’s story. 

The chart below shows the Quad, and just below that, further details and examples for each type of storytelling. 

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1) Stories about where the brand and the consumer belief intersect

Emphasizing an emotional connection over aggressive product placement, these stories are meant to establish your brand in popular culture and the current zeitgeist — as well as in consumers’ minds. They assert the brand’s passion and purpose, creating a strong foundation for other communications to come (including detailed product stories).


One story where the brand and consumer intersect is the Dove Real Beauty campaign. Launched in 2004, a time when female self-esteem was at a deficit, the campaign was meant to promote positive body image and self-esteem for women in a competitive space that was lacking diversity and positivity. Dove aligned its brand belief with a real customer need in creating the campaign, casting women of all colors, ages, shapes, and sizes. It made the story about something other than its own brand, creating campaign work over the years to support a mission: ensuring the current and the next generations grow up with a positive self-image and a healthy dose of self-esteem, and the ability to realize their full potential.

2) Stories about the product’s role in people’s lives

Tapping into established trust for a brand, this type of story is best when products are already a part of a consumer’s life. Designed to reinforce consumers’ reliance on and connection to products, these stories show their specific features and benefits in action.

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Whether it’s entering a question into Google Search or asking the AI Google product sitting on your kitchen counter to call a loved one, Google has cemented its story in how it helps its customers make life happen. One story that’s a great example is its “Get By With A Little Help” campaign. In it, the brand combines product feature highlights with user-generated content, to show how Google products help people everywhere with a range of everyday tasks.

3) Stories about the benefits of the product

Simple, lighthearted, and great at affirming something consumers already know and trust about a product, this storytelling type is meant to be brief, catchy, and impactful (even potentially viral). It requires high repetition and high consistency. You have to commit.


For decades, Geico has been incredibly consistent in making its product benefit of “15 minutes can save you 15% or more on car insurance” the center of gravity for all of its messaging. The art, however, has been in creating multiple humorous storylines (from nosy neighbors to cheeky celebrity cameos) to bring that promise to life, ensuring that a potentially dry rational benefit is constantly refreshed with campaigns that are engaging and entertaining. 

4) Stories about what the brand believes in

Focusing on a topic that’s important in the public consciousness, this type of story leverages a brand’s internal philosophy to create a meaningful message over time. Its product is present, but secondary, to the overall message. This storytelling type is best for brands that stake their reputation on being innovative industry disruptors. It tends to require longer-format storytelling media, like OLV or TV.


Chipotle is dedicated to providing the food world with integrity: a mighty promise that has made it an innovator in the fast food category. It is a fast food brand that has created a separate world within this genre, and its “Back to the Start” campaign brought this to life. In it, the brand depicted a literal vision of what its ideal world — one of farming and eating before industrialization made it impure — can, and should, look like. 

What type of story will work best for your brand? It’s just one of the conversations we look forward to having with each of our clients about the powerful levers of storytelling.

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