Why storytelling can increase customer engagement

“Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.”

Seth Godin

We couldn’t agree more with Mr Godin! Ninety-six percent of marketers recently stated that content marketing has helped them build trust and credibility with their audience¹. It’s a crowded marketplace out there, with an insane amount of content being published every second! Brands are all vying for customer engagement. They’re constantly searching for new ways to stand out from the crowd, which is where storytelling comes in. 

Marketers today recognise the value in using storytelling throughout their content, they’re using it to help them create deeper relationships between their customers and the brand. 

How exactly can storytelling enhance customer engagement?

Firstly, let’s be clear on how we define storytelling. This visual² pretty much hits the nail on the head:

Storytelling plays a powerful role in uniting people and brands. Audiences are more likely to engage with messages that resonate with them or trigger an emotional response. Therefore, storytelling helps drive stronger, deeper connections with your customers.

Storytelling also plays a critical role in brand building, helping the customer get to know you and what you stand for. It also ensures your brand remains front of mind. In fact, research³ shows that storytelling can help your brand be 22x more memorable!

So, who’s doing it well? We’ve selected three examples (from completely different sectors), of brands who have achieved incredible customer engagement success through storytelling:


Global yoghurt brand, Chobani, are renowned for their encouragement of user-generated content. They have run many successful word of mouth campaigns, one which was named “love stories”, and aptly launched on Valentine’s Day. They encouraged customers to share their own Chobani love story – which was genius! Not only did it create a sense of community for Chobani customers, content generation was also pretty much taken care of as thousands of customers shared their own personal stories. Peter McGuinness, Chobani’s President and Chief Operating Officer (formerly chief marketing and brand officer) once quoted “the brands that are succeeding today are the ones that are bravely and courageously telling great stories.”

Chobani recently ran a national “winning peeling” campaign, in which they gave away 25,000 pieces of activewear clothing to lucky ‘instant-win’ customers. This was, again, a campaign focused totally on the customer. Marketing Manager for Brand, Steven Blakers said “Chobani fans consistently tell us our yogurt makes up one of the pieces of their healthy lifestyle and our fans regularly post on social media in their activewear holding a pot of Chobani. So we decided, why not reward our fans with some top-quality Chobani branded activewear at a time when the majority of people are looking to kick start their 2021 fitness routine?” He said the campaign achieved an engagement rate of 40 per cent, significantly outperforming the industry benchmark (3-6 per cent)⁴.


Leading beauty brand, Dove, has been using storytelling to connect with their customers for years. One of the best storytelling campaigns of all time was their ‘beauty sketches’ campaign, in which a number of women were asked to describe themselves to a FBI trained forensic artist (from behind a curtain), who then drew a portrait based on their description. The objective of the campaign was to help women realise just how beautiful they are. It resonated with women all around the world, striking a chord with many who suffer from self-esteem issues. In response, sales for Dove jumped from $2.5 to $4 billion in the campaign’s first ten years⁵. Dove bars became the number one preferred soap brand in the U.S. and Unilever’s best selling product company-wide. Dove didn’t alienate their male customers, they also leveraged storytelling for many campaigns, including their ‘Men Care’ campaign, which launched on Father’s Day.

More recently, Dove has invested in a Global self-esteem project. Their website states ‘At Dove, we believe no young person should be held back from reaching their full potential. However, low body confidence and anxieties over appearance stop young people from being their best selves, affecting their health, friendships and even performance at school.’ They have an impressive collection of resources for parents, mentors, teachers and youth leaders, covering all kinds of topics including celebrity culture, peer pressure, puberty and body image, to name a few. We highly recommend checking it out. 

Air New Zealand

We know that air travel is certainly not what it used to be at the moment. But we couldn’t not discuss how successful storytelling has been for Air New Zealand over the years. In fact, former GM of global brand and marketing, Jodi Williams once stated⁶ “Storytelling is a big part of Air New Zealand’s marketing strategy as we continue to strengthen awareness for our brand. As some travelers may not be as familiar with us we focus on telling our brand story and highlighting our uniquely kiwi personality.” 

Air New Zealand is renowned for their customer-centric approach. They’ve incorporated their heritage and most proud assets into their marketing strategy. A few examples include their ‘Air All Blacks’ safety video, which showcases the New Zealand rugby team pitching their ideas for what the safety video should include. Another successful campaign was their Hobbit inspired safety video, which even featured a cameo from Sir Peter Jackson himself. Onboard safety is a priority, it’s so clever how they used storytelling to keep customers engaged in something so important. The Hobbit safety video has also had over 13.5m views on YouTube! We don’t know many people that would rewatch an aircraft safety video again post flight, do you?

We spoke at an event recently, and one word kept coming up…from the speakers and members of the audience, and that was authenticity. Your message must be authentic, it’s the only way that your customers will relate and connect with your brand. Whenever and however you try to engage your customers, ask yourself – are we being authentic?

Customology are customer growth and retention specialists. We help brands create customers for life, ensuring they are having the right conversation, with the right customers. If you’d like to have a chat about customer engagement, feel free to contact one of our Customologists on 1300 264 549 or hi@customology.com.au.


¹ Content Marketing Institute

² ReferralCandy

³ Quantified Communications

⁴ CMO Magazine

⁵ Dove Campaign Stories

⁶ Chief Marketer

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