4 Elements that Define Every Powerful Story

Each year, somewhere between 600,000 and 1,000,000 books are published in the United States alone. Considering the vast amount of literature already populating libraries and bookstores, it’s no wonder that over half of all books published sell less than 250 copies each.

Still, powerful stories cut through the clutter, resonating with millions of readers around the globe. Some are even celebrated centuries after their original publication. What is it exactly that makes these stories resonate?


Forget everything your middle school, high school, and college English teachers taught you. Sure, their lectures about inciting action, rising conflict, resolution, a protagonist, and an antagonist are all true – many stories have these elements. But these are the basic elements of a story; there’s nothing special about them.

Oh, so your business solves a consumer pain-point? Whelp, so do your competitors.

By incorporating the five elements that define every powerful story, you’ll bring your brand storytelling to the next level.

  1. Defining the “Why.” To be effective in your content marketing, your brand must go beyond the “what” (customer pain-point) and “how” (your products and services) of your business. The greatest stories explain why the main characters do what they do and are who they are, creating an emotional investment that hooks the readers.

Explaining why your business does what it does is paramount to creating inherent trust with your clients. Consumers don’t emotionally connect with the tech specs of a product; they connect with an organization’s mission and commitment to customer service. Your business’s “why” attracts consumers who believe what you believe.

Consider Martin Luther King, Jr., who is perhaps the most respected figure from the Civil Rights Movement. According to Simon Sinek who spoke at TED Talks, “[Martin Luther King, Jr.] didn’t go around telling people what needed to change in America. He went around and told people what he believed. ‘I believe, I believe, I believe,’ he told people. And people who believed what he believed took his cause and made it their own – and they told people – and some of those people created structures to get the word out to even more people – and lo and behold, 250,000 people showed up on the right day, at the right time to hear him speak.”

Similarly, when your business explains its mission, core values, and beliefs, you attract and create loyal brand ambassadors who become part of your story and help grow your bottom line. So answer the question: why does your business exist? Is it to give back to your community, be an innovative leader in your industry, or create a one-of-a-kind solution for your clients? Whatever the answer, ensure that your employees know, but more importantly, make sure your customers know as well.

  1. Room for interpretation. It’s incredibly tempting to explain everything in brand storytelling, but it’s better to leave room for interpretation. When you create an opportunity for interpretation, consumers can form their own ideas and questions surrounding your brand, which eventually leads to greater engagement.Consider the films Life of Pi, Shutter Island, and Inception, all of which have open-ended conclusions left to the viewer to imagine. This gives the audience the opportunity to use their own personal experiences to interpret the story and dream of an ending. Since every interaction with your brand strengthens the consumer-to-business relationship, give your target audience the opportunity to interpret your content.

For example, consumer case studies give readers the opportunity to fill in the blanks and imagine themselves as a satisfied customer. Case studies that focus on the satisfaction of the client rather than the product drive readers to learn more about your brand.

  1. Passion that inspires. Similar to passionate storytellers and stage actors who captivate your attention, brand’s that are passionate about their story will keep readers hooked on their content. Passion creates potential for action, which is the ultimate goal of any content marketing strategy. Contact Us, Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter, and Click to Learn More are all actions that consumers complete only when they are inspired to do so.KONY 2012 is regarded as the most successful nonprofit viral video of all time. What’s most impressive about the video’s success was its ability to capture attention despite its half hour running time in a digital world filled with short-term content. The passion of the storytelling inspired viewers to keep watching and learn how they can get involved.
  2. Transformation. Many marketers make the mistake of focusing on the “moral” of a story. While there are certainly lessons to be learned from the most powerful stories ever told, the key aspect is the transformation of the main characters. How do the challenges, plot twists, and rising action develop who the characters ultimately become? Similarly, your brand storytelling must showcase how you can transform the lives of consumers by solving their pain points. The transformation of each character is the point of human connection.Though your business transforms the lives of its clients, your business itself experiences growth and transformation. The addition of new services, product lines, and employees change the way your company operates. You’ll want to reflect growth and creative evolution in your brand storytelling as well.

Balancing the elements of powerful storytelling is an incredibly tricky act. By hiring a professional writing service, you can ensure your business has the content necessary to tell its story and attract new customers.

If content marketing is king, it’s time to take charge of your kingdom. Your brand has a powerful story to tell. Is your current content marketing strategy doing it justice?

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Daniel Chioco is a writer living in Nashville, TN. He earned his Commercial Music degree at Belmont University, where he also studied creative writing and wrote for the student newspaper. When he isn't creating content, Daniel works as an actor and films YouTube videos. He is also a freelance musician and is authoring his first fantasy novel.

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