Digital Storytelling - A Guide To Creating Memorable Videos

Updated: Sep 2

Be original, show off your style, and let your videos spiel about you.

In 2009, a journalist named Rob Walker wanted to figure out: is storytelling really the most powerful tool of all?


And to do this, he bought 200 objects from eBay with an average price of 9 cents per object.

He then called 200 authors and asked them,


"Hey, would you like to be part of the 'significant object study'? Which means that I would like you to write a story about one of the objects."

And 200 authors said yes.


So there, he had 200 stories, and he went on eBay again with nail-biting anticipation to sell 200 objects with storytelling.


Would there be a difference? Beyond your expectations!


He bought the 200 objects for a total of $129 and sold them for $8000 after the story was added.


That's insane!


How is it possible for humans to be so easily tricked by something so simple as a story?

Well, it all boils down to one core thing, "emotional investment."

The more emotionally invested you are in anything in your life, the less critical and the less objectively observant you become.


People love stories. From the dawn of time to our kids' bedtime, around campfires and conference tables, stories celebrate our shared humanity.


In this guide, we'll discuss digital storytelling. What it is, and how you can leverage video storytelling in marketing to draw people into your world (products/services.)


What is storytelling?

Storytelling is an interactive art of using words, actions, and characters to describe ideas, beliefs, personal experiences, and life lessons through a strong narrative structure to stimulate the listener's imagination.


What is digital storytelling?

Digital storytelling combines the best of both worlds: the "old world" of telling stories and the "new world" of video, photography, and art. A digital story comprises various digital elements like video, audio, interactive graphics, etc., within a narrative structure (a story). Whether you tell stories via text or videos, it has the power to give your company a competitive advantage.


Why is digital storytelling important in marketing?

Through digital storytelling, you can connect with your audience through their innate instinct and weave your brand into their lives. Video storytelling is a catalyst for your marketing; it stimulates your prospects' emotions, imaginations, and energy to make your brand memorable. It helps you get people to rise to their feet to applaud instead of ignoring you.


1. Stories trigger happy hormones

Our body develops happy hormones that signal emotions and stimulate particular areas of our brain. When we see or hear stories, happy hormones like oxytocin, dopamine, and endorphins are released and influence our emotions.

When you see/ hear a story that creates empathy for a character, you get more oxytocin in your blood, you trust more, feel more human, bond with the storyteller, and feel more relaxed.


Oxytocin is the most beautiful hormone of all because it helps you feel human. It helps promote trust, empathy, and bonding.


Another happy hormone is endorphins that's induced in your brain when you hear a story or visual that makes you laugh and feel happier.

The third one is dopamine. In fact, storytelling, in its true essence, is dopamine-creating; it's always something we're waiting for and expecting.


A suspenseful digital story can increase dopamine levels in your body. When you get increased dopamine levels in your blood, you get more focus and motivation and remember things better.

Pick the story you want to release the hormone you wish in your prospects' brain to get exactly the desired effects. Your video can evoke happiness, warmth, focus, empathy, and joy - it's up to you what you want to make your audience feel. Make sure that every aspect of your video does this – the script, visuals, characters, lighting, music – everything.


2. Make your audience feel important

When you show your audience your human side through a story or connect your product to their lifestyle as Nike does, they feel connected with your product and want to learn more about it. Try to get people emotionally invested in your product/service. For example, if you're a car brand and want to attract buyers with average salaries, create a video story of an average salaried person fulfilling his dream of buying a new car and taking his family on a road-trip adventure.


3. Make proposals appealing

Well-created stories stack the odds in your favor and make proposals irresistible. They allow us to build credibility and trust masterfully and make our audience experience a human element in our businesses. The idea is to give before much more than you expect in return. Good stories position you to be givers before you expect to receive.


4. Inspire people

Let's recall famous movies like James Bond, Avengers, Star Wars, etc., that are absolutely unrealistic. Still, the characters and dialogues influenced you so much that you use their dialogues in your daily lives. You might also remember the quote that Steve Jobs shared in his speech to Stanford University students, "stay hungry, stay foolish." These are just some of the many examples of how powerful stories inspire and can continue to be memorable over time.


5. Your story sets the tone of your brand

Your company's story is what will guide people into choosing you over your competitors. Your story can be inspired by inspiration from others, but it should also represent who you are and what you do best. It should be an honest tale that highlights your experience with other customers. This way, you can guarantee that people feel comfortable investing time in you and your product/service.


What are the elements of good video storytelling?

Videos are known to be the most potent channel for companies to create an emotional connection with their audience. Your video narrative must be persuasive to make your audience feel connected.


Watch out for these fundamental elements to make digital storytelling captivating.


1. The character

Like a narrative text, a narrative video must be built around the characters' experience because it helps to bring the story to life through nuances that a narrator can't achieve with words alone. Depending on the story, focus on a single hero character and personify it to convey the emotions you want strongly.

Melanie Green, a communication professor at the university of buffalo, says that,

"People are more likely to make changes to their lifestyle and health habits if they see a character they relate to making the same change."

Your character can be fictitious, real or historical, real-fictional or fictional-fictional, and simultaneously subject to decisions, going through a cognitive process of compulsory choice. Add colors, visual cues, and the iconic music that best represent the character rather than just mentioning them.


2. The Hook

"The best writers hook their readers with voice, not just action." — Stephen King.

Your video story must contain a hook: a twist, a climax to make it surprising and exciting. It will determine the emotional response you get from the audience. You can use metaphors, statistics, use cases, and emotions to spark people's curiosity, capture their imagination, and draw them into your story.

A good hook could be something unexpected, even if your story is just about making someone laugh without any dialogue. You can create hooks in your video stories made with only visuals and music, just like Pink Panther and Mr. Bean.


3. The plot

At its core, your video story should have an arc. This is especially important if you are using animation or visual effects. When people watch a movie, they follow a narrative that coherently connects information.


Remembering back to any story, we recall specific scenes that were told with some style or another. That's what you want to achieve in your video content. You will need to create an opening scene that gets viewers involved in the story you are telling. Then there are great ways to introduce new elements into the story without changing the direction of the message you are spreading.


4. The music

You can't ignore the power of a good soundtrack. Can you forget the classical soundtrack of Pink Panther? Popeye the Sailor man? Or James Bond? You can't because it is deeply imprinted in your brain and created a memory with it.

Research suggests that music in digital stories (apart from supporting text) can serve different functions – structural, attentional, evaluative, and persuasive - that are vital for a thorough interpretation of the story.


Top 10 Video Storytelling Tips To Engage Your Audience

Video is one of the most powerful tools many B2B and B2C marketers use to drive engagement and conversions through the buyer's journey. But how can you create dope digital stories?


Try these storytelling tips for marketing videos to clearly deliver your message.


1. Drive connection through narrative

All genres and stories use a narrative arc that features a calm beginning, the middle where tension and momentum builds-up, and a resolution at the end. It's one of the most important elements of a good story, and your video should have one too. Besides, modern stories follow a similar progression regardless of the genre and purpose of the story.

Being a classic narrative structure, the idea of narrative arc is what we are all accustomed to. Various other storytelling techniques might also be effective in some cases, but the narrative arc is considered ideal in all genres and purposes.


You can only create a compelling enough story if you are following this method. In the case of video storytelling, the narrative arc makes it easier for the viewers to dig into the story, engaging them till the end of the video.


2. Understand the problem and the pursuit

Good storytelling always comes after good story listening.

The worst story of all is the one that's told too soon. This is a common mistake that aspiring storytellers make. They create stories without identifying who they're talking to. They launch into a story without identifying the problem of their target audience.


You must deeply understand your audience's problem, where they're right now, what issues they're facing in their current state and how they feel about it. Know what their pursuit is: where they want to be.


Create a reality that shows you understand their problem, challenge specific feelings, and include some distinguishable characteristics that your audience can relate to.

You can pick a character as the pursuit, just like Nike did. The brand didn't include a bunch of close-up shots of their shoes to convey the message. They found the perfect person in Lebron James to represent a specific relatable challenge: overcoming obstacles to beat an opponent.


Then they utilize imagery to represent a progression of feelings like defeat and discouragement to hope, victory, and resilience.


3. Use the four Ps rule

There are more rules of storytelling than the basic narrative arc rules mentioned above. To make your video storytelling effective and successful, it's vital to keep all these rules in mind to create an engaging story or video for your targeted audience.

Focus on the four Ps of storytelling. You can create a compelling story with a firm understanding of these Ps. These Ps are: plot, purpose, people, and place.

  • The plot of the video story is the main storyline you are trying to tell.

  • The purpose of the video is to describe what you demand of your audience or what you want to convey to them.

  • Then comes the third P, which is a reference to people. These people will be the characters of your story. You will have to contemplate the role of these characters in your story and what message you want them to convey.

  • The last one is for places. It is referred to as the place where your story will be set. You will have to choose a place that goes hand-in-hand with your plot and narrative arc and see how it will affect the story.

4. Be creative with the rule of thirds

There's a rule of three that helps create a compelling story. It's based on a three-act structure model that makes the story into a clear, coherent format.


The first part is set up, the second is a big reveal, and the third one is buildup.


The setup part introduces things step by step until the moment when they are ready to blow open. Then, the big reveal comes at once.

However, the whole process happens before the audience realizes something huge is coming. A gradual buildup leads to a climax (the moments before the crash).


From here, the ending is either a resolution or a twist, whether or not everyone survives or not. This is where listeners/viewers learn about changes made, developments pushed forward, or discoveries opened.


5. Create a story that appeals to emotions



From laundry detergent to software and everything in between, brands are playing on emotions to create successful videos for brands. Therefore, while developing your video idea, you will have to ensure that it has enough emotion to make it engaging.


Make sure you focus on the feelings you want your video to hold and convey. Firstly, you will have to select an emotion you want to evoke in your viewers: happiness, hope, warmth, or sadness. Then keep sticking to that emotion for the rest of the video story.


You can also create the whole video with a sad emotion but give it a happy ending if you think that the targeted audience will like it more.


For example, if you want to sell an airline ticket, you need to create a tear-jerking video campaign about 80-year-olds boarding their first-ever flight, friends reuniting, or families connecting from across the globe. You can bet your bottom dollar on the success of this story-based video marketing campaign because there's an emotional element.


6. Use humor to spark engagement

Humor from brands - especially in B2B marketing - can be rare, but it can be incredibly effective if you succeed in making them laugh. While higher values are important to show, your product/service video storytelling doesn't always need to be serious. Show your company's lighthearted, human side with humor and create a positive association between your audience and your brand.

You can learn from Lucidchart's hilarious series of videos, "Lucidchart Explains the Internet," that showcase their product while entertaining the audience. They used their chart software to diagram memes, pop culture, and general Internet things.


7. Use attractive visuals

It might not sound as absurd in video storytelling that you should forget about the word and use visuals to convey your message or story. One of the main approaches of video storytelling is 'Don't Tell, Show,' and this is what you must keep in mind while creating your video story.


This can be quite clear because most video messages are muted on mobile phones, so it is important to create strong visuals.


These visuals should be capable of telling the whole story even when the sound of the video is muted. Remember that you are not dependent on words, and it is not difficult at all to convey your story without words.


You only have to create strong and engaging visuals that display the context of your story. The videos need to understand what is happening in the video even if they are watching with no sound.

Different brands like Apple and Nike have been displaying such video storytelling quite efficiently, which speaks of their success.


8. Focus on color psychology

Colors are a language that can put life into anything boring and unengaging. Right colors that match your video story can be really powerful and compelling. It helps create the whole mood of the video and share the message with your viewers.


If you understand every color's story and the emotion it represents, you can use the colors accordingly in your video story. This color method is also referred to as color psychology, and many brands worldwide use this technique for marketing purposes.


Even if the actors don't have any dialogues and are acting silently, the colors will speak the story for them. We can take an example of the orange color that represents happiness, youth, and sociability.


Therefore, before creating a video story, study the colors and psychology behind them for effective results. You will have to keep the targeted audience in mind. In case your brand is youth-oriented, you can use orange color as we have discussed its psychological representation above.


9. Focus on the composition and make it short & sweet

The attention span of viewers is quite short, and it is necessary to keep them engaged till the end. The amount of information you need to convey grows with time, and it is vital to inform the viewers what part holds the information they are looking for. This enables the viewers to know where they need to focus.


This is why it's necessary to focus on the composition of the video. Make sure that it is structured well and that your audience is aware of all the key elements of your video and concentrate on them.

Another thing that you need to consider is to keep the video as short as possible. You might have seen from the Instagram and Snapchat stories that the shorter, the better. No one has hours to watch your video story.

So, keep the story and video as precise, clear, and direct as possible. If you think you can convey your message in ten seconds, you shouldn't bother spending a whole minute on it. The longer time for a short message or context will only make it boring.


10. Humanize your brand with a behind-the-scenes story

One of the most effective ways to create a tribe of loyal, engaged customers is by sharing behind-the-scenes video stories. It gives consumers an insight into what makes the cogs turn in your business.


Your audience wants to see your authentic, human side struggles. Show the bad hair days, meetings-taking-over-meals days, coffee spills, and spending hours on shooting to show them that you're just another human with struggles.

You can create behind-the-scenes video stories, such as:

  • Chefs preparing food in a restaurant

  • Artists putting the finishing touches

  • manufacturing and packaging processes

  • A time-lapse video of an event being set up

  • 'Days spent in a video production showing a typical working day in your business

  • Short story videos of celebrating business milestones

9 Video storytelling examples

If you want to kickstart with storytelling in video marketing, there's no better way than learning from the pros. Here are some fascinating brand storytelling examples that you must watch for inspiration.


1. Burberry

Burberry is a British heritage brand that sells luxury apparel with storytelling at the heart of its content marketing strategy. The brand uses video storytelling to convey its brand values and evoke a sense of bonding among its community.

The Tale of Thomas Burberry is perhaps the most enchanting example of storytelling by Burberry. This 2016 film is a dramatic depiction of the creator's life that looks more like a movie teaser than an advertisement. Burberry has also won numerous awards for this archetypal storytelling plot structure that contains challenges, romance, conflicts, and a happy ending.


2. Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola has infused storytelling into every channel of the company's communications. In this example, the brand used the Covid-19 crisis as a backdrop and focused on the heroes of humanity running the "Human Race ."Customers can point their phone's camera at a can of Coke and view one of 12 stories coming to life, with each story featuring a minor conflict. They also demonstrated how these virtual characters interacted in a humorous style before sharing a Coke (and resolving their disagreements).


3. LEGO

LEGO is a prime example of excelling in brand video storytelling. LEGO has created its own feature-length film, The Lego Movie, and exceptional short video ads. A Slimy Situation is one such example of dope video storytelling. In this short animated film, LEGO City is menaced by a sinister slime, and viewers are invited to partake and rescue the city. As a film, it may not be a cinematic masterpiece, but it's a suspenseful story that positions the brand's products at the center stage.


4. BauBax

BauBax was launched with a mission to solve problems faced by travelers worldwide and revolutionize travel with utility-inspired innovations, features, and designs for travel wear, such as jackets, shoes, and other apparel. In this example, the brand has used a video storytelling approach to sell their products by highlighting the problems of uncomfortable shoes. The brand also highlighted how a sustainable, comfy sole of the shoes helps travelers move freely around the world. Baubax creatively used humor to draw audiences' attention (and lots of sales).


5. Nike

Well, this brand is no stranger to storytelling. Nike's campaign encourages both professional and amateur athletes not to give up but to come back for another day. The brand uses Instagram not to promote its athletic wear or shoes but to tell stories that induce all four happy hormones into its prospects' brains. Nike not only casts winning athletes in the adverts but those who face challenges due to their social status as minorities.


6. Kurzgesagt – What if Earth got Kicked Out

Showing answers to questions on a video is difficult; many creators would end up making mediocre content. Kurzgesagt is the biggest YouTube channel in Germany that has chosen animated explainer videos to hit this mark. Kurzgesagt shares stories and answers questions with videos with unique animations and colorful graphics.


In this example, "What if Earth Got Kicked Out," the brand got 6.5M+ views. It talks about the consequences of our planet flying out from the solar system in terms of a story.


Kurzgesagt's videos are popular for a good reason. They're crisp, colorful, have lively animations, clear transitions, smooth movements, and, of course, fascinating content.


7. Airbnb

Airbnb is crushing it with video storytelling like Nike and Coca-Cola. This video is a part of a promotional series on "Airbnb Experiences – Cooking." Airbnb showed how unique and fun the experience of cooking meals with locals could be. Instead of casting actors or company representatives, Airbnb featured real hosts to tell the story. The result? It left a powerful impression on viewers, and by the end, many viewers would want to experience the real thing - exactly what the brand was looking for.


8. Heroes of Small business by Google

Google receives a worldwide appreciation for meaningful and heavenly ads. We can somehow relate Google's storytelling videos to our daily lives and feel the purpose. In this video example, Google highlighted the struggles of small business owners in terms of an engaging story. How an entrepreneur steps up and does whatever it takes to keep the dream alive when the business is threatened.


9. Tesla: testimonial

Customers want to know how you can benefit others, and testimonials are a great way to show this. Testimonials get right to the heart and make the product experience great. In this testimonial video, Tesla created a captivating cinematic look. You will see the customer's day-to-day life with his Tesla. What viewers love in this video is the everyday details like birds chirping in his neighborhood and how he pulls the food out of the fridge with his kid in his arms - it's super authentic.


Seamlessly integrate storytelling into your video marketing campaigns with Roleplay

To be a great storyteller, you don't have to be a bearded older man in front of a fireplace with a dark voice. Everybody can be a good storyteller if you believe. It is not just about understanding and empathizing with your audience but also demonstrating your company as a champion or ally. A connected story produces emotion-rich messages and offers meaning and value to people's lives.

If you are wondering how to tell a great story and get your videos to stand out above the noise level, Roleplay is your answer. We create authentic brand connections through video storytelling that moves, inspires, and amuses your audience. We keep the product and brand in the background and your audience as the hero.


To learn more, contact us.

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