Interactive Storytelling: How to Tell a Story When the User is in Control

A story is strongest when it’s told in the right way. A master storyteller knows exactly how and when to reveal the different elements that make up the perfect story, holding the audience in the palm of his hand. But a story in the hands of a master storyteller is not an interactive story. On the Internet, storytelling can’t happen in the same way as it can in fixed media, like films or books. Because you can’t predict the order in which users will view your web pages, you need to adapt your approach to the interactive character of the medium.

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Storytelling Tools for Small Business – Creative Hacks for Brand Messaging

Are you trying to build a name for your business online, but can’t afford a full-time content creation team? There are a variety of storytelling tools you can use to create engaging content if you don’t have the budget to hire an in-house content marketing professional. Check out the following five storytelling tools to see which ones are appropriate for your small business:

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Visual Storytelling: Seeing Is Believing

There is a reason why “Pics or It Didn’t Happen” is a popular social media meme. People don’t just want to read about something, they want to see it too.

Actually, that’s not all…. People want to see and experience authenticity. So, while visual storytelling has been around since the time of primitive man, now it’s a fast growing marketing trend, mainly thanks to the internet and social media. Businesses can use visual storytelling to let their audience experience the business in a multisensory way.

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Become the David Mamet of Marketing With these 3 Storytelling Tips

Storytelling is the communication of human experiences in words, images, and sounds. From its origins around the camp fire, to modern-day literature and film, storytelling has continually evolved as a tool for communicating experiences and traditions from one generation to the next.

In marketing, storytelling has the power to engage target audiences on an emotional level like never before. In an online environment, where audiences are bombarded with information from all directions, it is no longer about breaking through “the noise” of your competitors. Instead, modern marketing aims to give consumers what they want, namely drama, in the form of a brand story.

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What Makes a Good Story?

Don’t you just love a good story? Perhaps you grew up having a story read to you every evening. Even when they were about hat-wearing cats or spiders named Charlotte, those stories could capture your imagination and enable you to enter into the narrative.

Maybe you still enjoy cuddling up with a good novel today. You may even have a few treasured books sitting on your shelf, waiting to be read again and again.

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The VW Beetle Story: A Lesson in Brand Persona Development


The VW “Lemon” and “Think Small” ads are icons of the late 50s.

Created by Bill Bernbach‘s BBD ad agency, they revolutionized advertising copy and laid out the early foundations for brand storytelling through engaging narrative and brand persona development.


A brand is not just a name and a logo. It’s a living, breathing entity equal to the sum of all its communication parts; verbal, visual and experiential.

A brand must develop a multi-dimensional persona. If it succeeds at this, it can garner customer loyalty and encourage brand advocacy; only then can it earn the right to charge a premium rather than compete on price.

According to Denis Brice:

“When a brand’s personality complements our own, we form a friendship with it and give it our trust and loyalty.”
The VW Beetle is a perfect example of a brand with a well-developed persona.

Thanks to the masterful and brilliantly executed early communication strategies dreamed up by visionary admen, the brand’s persona is so well developed that you sometimes forget it’s a car.

Remember Herbie?

It’s no wonder that today, the VW Beetle is the longest-running and most-manufactured car of a single design platform, worldwide.


The “Think Small” and “Lemon” ads were not intentional.

“Think Small” was a note written by Julian Koenig at BBD in reation to the original creative contrasting VW with large American cars. “Lemon” was a comment made by Rita Selden on one of the proposed ads.

The headline for the original VW ad was intended to be “Willkommen”

The client (Carl Hahn) thought it was too German. He firmly believed that in order to compete against well entrenched American brands it had to be “as American as Apple Strudel”.

Recent memories of the Holocaust created a major challenge for the brand.

Initially, DDB were unenthusiastic about the opportunity. George Lois of DDB was quoted as saying : “We have to sell a Nazi car in a Jewish town”

Bernbach eventually convinced Lois: “We’ll take it for a year and use it to get GM”.


To sell a small, basic, ugly , economical, foreign car to a market used to huge, chrome-finned, gadget-stuffed, home-built gas guzzlers.


The VW Beetle is an honest car. Everything about it had to be honest, transparent and straightforward – the product, the pricing, the dealers and even the advertising.

The body copy had to be like a tip from one friend to another.

The rest is glorious ad history.


The ads had unusual high readership levels. They also had an immediate impact on sales. Imported car sales halved in two years due to the launch of compacts by the 3 major players. VW sales rose by 25% in the same period.

VW Beetle’s well defined brand persona would future-proof VW’s business for years to come.

It also ruffled a few feathers. Remember this clip from MadMen?

Some of the quotes from this clip:

Harry Crane: They did one last year, the same kind of smirk. Remember, Think Small. It was a half-page ad on a full-page buy. You could barely see the product.
Don: “It must be getting results they keep going back to the well”
“Honest, it’s a great angle”
“ugly they went with their strength”
Don: “love it or hate it, the fact remains,we’ve been talking about this for the last 15 minutes.”

A well defined brand personality carves a niche in a crowded marketplace and future proofs a business against competitive fluctuations. A strong brand personality also allows a business to charge a premium for an otherwise generic product.

In a new age and with the strong influence of social media on branding, a well developed brand persona is as important as ever.


Inspired by the VW Beetle story? Can you see how it relates to your brand? What are you doing to develop your brand’s persona? Share your thoughts, experience and tips.