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Your School's Brand: The Incredible, Emotional Art of Storytelling

Published on 21/09/16

Every single day we are subjected to marketing in all its forms, whether that's on TV, through social media, billboards, YouTube, flyers, or on the back of parking tickets. It is quite literally everywhere. Sometimes it can be irritating and intrusive and sometimes it's genuinely enjoyable. But what makes for the best kind of marketing; the ads we don't want to skip, the billboards that make us laugh? Well.. I'll tell you: it's the kind of marketing that really doesn't feel like marketing at all.

"The joy of not being sold anything."


Having the ability to skip YouTube ads, scroll through promotions on your social media feed and fast forward through the adverts on your pre-recorded TV shows - gives consumers more control than ever in regards to the content they choose to consume. This is drastically different from the typically more aggressive techniques adopted by traditional marketing; where we would be bombarded with annoying pop-ups, spam in our inboxes and brands telling us about how great they are.

Customer-centric marketing has forever changed the structure of the marketing food chain, paving the way to a more emotional connection between us and the brands we are willing to engage with. Brands have shifted their marketing techniques to be centred around people and their stories.

You Have Two Ears & One Mouth

Storytelling is an intrinsic part of our society and culture. Most historians and psychologists believe that storytelling is one of the key things that define and bind humanity. Books, paintings, films, music, news, media, religions, photography, myths, legends, fairy tales, adventures - you name it. Stories are being told everywhere, and always have been. 

No one can say for certain where the roots of storytelling originate, but what we do know is that it brings people together; whether it's round an open fire in a cave or watching Eastenders on the sofa in your living room. One of the most significant and powerful outcomes of these stories is that they are shared, retold and adapted by each subsequent storyteller. We discuss who our favourite TV show character is, which new songs we love, what new book we are reading, and it's ultimately down to one reason... People are interested in people.

Human Interest Stories

A human interest story has always had power, regardless of how it is delivered. This is because, naturally we are empathetic, emotional and socially connected creatures. We have the ability to 'feel' someone else's pain, rejoice in their happiness and experience anger over their tribulations. This strong, emotional connection gives any audience something to relate to; thus feeding our innate curiosity with the lives of others.

Be Resonant

Western Sydney University hit the nail on the head with their 'Unlimited' campaign, featuring the story of one of their graduates named Deng Adut. The remarkable journey of how Deng came to study at the university takes you on an emotional roller coaster ride, all the way through to him finally achieving his dream of becoming a lawyer. This isn't your average promotional school video, featuring the stereotypical warm, friendly atmosphere, impressive grounds and facilities of the university. No - Western Sydney University have taken their 'Unlimited' motto and translated it through Deng's personal story, creating an emotional, thought provoking campaign that resonates with whoever watches it. See for yourself...

Tugging On Your Heartstrings

Emotions are at the epicentre of any story, but in order for it to become relatable it has to feel authentic. For Father's day, Tesco created an incredibly authentic campaign by making the story about their customers. In this advert (which might I add - sells you absolutely nothing), several families are filmed shopping around the store. Over the tannoy, family members deliver heartfelt, personal messages of love and appreciation to their Fathers, which results in a few shed tears and compassionate embraces. There's just something about seeing Dads cry that really gets the tear ducts working.

Make It Personal

There are stories to be told everywhere, even when you'd think it to be impossible. This lottery ad, that feels more like a Pixar film, goes much further than your typical 'lottery winning' story. The amount of care that went into building Justino's world is outstanding and as a result the audience are sucked into it and begin to care for him, almost instantly. Once again, please note - you are not being sold a thing...

Use Your Imagination

Barbie also got personal in their empowering campaign 'Imagine The Possibilities', which features a number of girls working in the place of adults. These endearing young characters, packed with charisma, act out as a lecturer, a vet, a football coach and a museum tour guide. Not only is it adorable and entertaining to witness children emulate adult-like behaviour; the message behind the campaign's lightheartedness, is incredibly powerful. So what happens when girls can be anything? Watch it - it's brilliant.

The Stories You Should Be Telling

Storytelling doesn't have to be for big consumer brands, everyone has a story to tell - including your school! Stamford Endowed Schools illustrated what makes them so special through their 'This Is Where' campaign. The short video features a number of students, ranging from the junior school all the way through to sixth form; documenting what each of them learnt, experienced or achieved. The profound and personal insights into the students' academic lives, paired with some inspirational music, combines to create the kind of campaign that is likely to give you goosebumps. Not only does it showcase the school, its facilities and values - but it also gives it a personality. A story told straight from the mouths of their students, without telling you or selling you anything specific about the school. Because, at the end of the day, it's all about the kids.

Take inspiration from some of these incredible campaigns and think about how you can tell your story. If you would like some help or advice, our comprehensive branding and strategy services will not only help you understand what your story is, but also how you can tell it in a way that will emotionally connect and resonate with your stakeholders.

Laura Sutton

Hi there,

My name is Laura and I'm the Marketing Co-ordinator here at e4education.

My background is in digital marketing, specialising specifically in marketing strategies. I hope to provide you with helpful, interesting and insightful content that will enable you to market yourselves effectively and with confidence.

Please let me know if my posts spark up any questions that you might like answering - I'd be happy to help. 

Drop us an email at or call us on 0345 319 1039.