By Tim Williams

By Tim Williams

At the heart of every notable brand is a compelling brand story. This is the tale of how your firm got started, what its creators were trying to accomplish, and the difference you are trying to make in the world.

As with all good stories, brand stories have central characters and a central plot. They also have conflict — a recounting of obstacles, challenges, and tough decisions.

When describing your firm to a prospect, consider how much more interesting it would be to engage in some storytelling instead of just a dry recitation of facts like agency size and capabilities. Storytelling is the most basic form of human communication, and for a good reason; everyone — even prospective clients — loves a good story.

An effective agency brand story isn’t just a factual history of the agency. Rather it should include the elements that make for good short stories in general, including:


What are the circumstances under which the story took place?


What are the forces at play in the story? Good plots usually include the elements of rising action, climax, falling action, and denouement (the final outcome).


Without conflict there is no plot. Conflict is any form of opposition or challenge that faces the main character. For example, what are some of the decisions your firm made about what it isn’t? What are some of the times the principles upon which you founded the firm were put to the test?

Protagonists and Antagonists

What were the central characters trying to accomplish, and what or who was standing in their way?


What ultimately is the controlling idea or central insight?

The story behind Toronto-based Teehan+Lax begins this way:

“Five years ago we set out to build a company that focused solely on delivering great user experiences in the digital channel. We couldn’t rely on the legacy of past employers as the basis for our new company. Instead, we challenged the conventional formula and created a new approach and process.”

In everything from RFP responses to new business proposals, this firm describes their brand using the elements of a good story, built on the central theme that the agency they were trying to create didn’t really exist anywhere else.

When you add it all up, your agency’s brand story is an articulation of your value proposition. It’s a way of packaging up and describing your positioning in the marketplace.

Everything is always more interesting when told as a story. So the next time a prospect says “Tell me a little bit about your agency,” consider it an invitation to tell a compelling brand story.

The end.