Brand Storytelling at Its Finest


ADOTAS – What makes a brand stand out? What makes a brand resonate with consumers? What makes a brand evoke an emotional connection that is so powerful, it turns consumers into brand ambassadors? It’s when a brand can tell an incredibly influential yet simple story that touches a consumer on a personal level.

There are so many brands that come to mind, but the one I would like to focus on is TOMS. Even though I’m not professionally connected to the company at all, this one brand has made a huge impact on me through its story:

I first heard of TOMS when I was in a shoe store in New York City a few years ago. I was instantly drawn to the brand because of its mission to provide shoes for children in need. Recently, my dental hygienist recommended that I read Blake Mycoskie’s (“Chief Shoe Giver” of TOMS) new book, Start Something that Matters. His book tells his story of creating TOMS (Shoes for Tomorrow) and how it is important to “find your story.”

As he states in his book, people are no longer listening to a few radio or TV stations each week; they are surfing more than 500 TV channels as well as numerous digital channels and mediums (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Kindles, iPads), often at the same time. Thus, it is important to present information in an emotionally compelling fashion, otherwise it’s forgettable. Simply put, “People don’t need new facts — they need a new story.”

I now think, in this case, the Chief Shoe Giver should be referred to as Chief Storyteller, and I might as well be referred to as Story Ambassador. Here’s why: As a result of my exposure to the TOMS story and the recommendation that I received in the dental chair, of all places, I’m sharing my own personal experiences with the brand.

I recommended TOMS to my work colleagues, including marketing team members, partners on the  Centro Giving Tree, our non-profit committee, and our CEO, Shawn Riegsecker.

I mentioned TOMS in the weekly Centro Academy insights email distributed to our sales team and clients; it complemented a recent article by the IAB President on building better brand stories.

I recommended TOMS to my family and friends.

I recommended TOMS to my marathon-training buddies albeit while running out of breath.

I recommended TOMS to a local chiropractor and other health and wellness friends.

I recommended TOMS on my Twitter page, singing TOMS’ praises to all my followers.

Additionally, I’ve noticed the TOMS brand more and more, whether it’s on my Facebook news feed, on a friend’s or stranger’s feet, or online while I’m surfing from site to site. It truly brings a smile to my face.

The above list is not intended to be self-serving — instead, I’m trying to show an example of how a powerful brand can turn one brand ambassador into many, including people who are quite influential. As a result, this one brand story continues to be told by many who want to be a part of the story. The key phrase is “I recommended,” which translates into more actions that lead to more sales. Bingo!

Why have I felt so compelled to focus on this one brand? It’s really quite simple. This brand has forged an emotional connection with me. I honestly want to buy as many shoes as I ca,n because I know I am doing something good at the same time.

I challenge more advertisers to tell inspiring and meaningful brand stories, particularly among digital channels, that leave a long-lasting impression on consumers. As a result, they can let their consumers do all the talking or shall I say marketing. The key is to tell a story that matters to consumers.


  1. There’s something quite powerful and compelling about a CEO that is capable of stepping up and becoming the brand’s true champion. We believe podcasting is a great way for a business owner to start. To shine a light on the CEO, we pair them up with a radio professional that can interview them. It’s a whole lot easier to be interviewed than it is to prepare a written podcast and try to deliver it without sounding canned. Once the content is spoken into existence it can be repurposed in many ways including articles, reports, white papers. Podcasting this way for 10 minutes per week will result in almost 80,000 words in a year. That’s enough to start focusing some Rock Star appeal to a CEO.


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