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Storytelling for food and drink brands

One of the great things about being the creative director of a video production company is discovering the stories behind the brands we work with. Food and drink companies are no exception, in fact they’re often a gift to a filmmaker as they generally have great stories to tell.

But why use storytelling when you’re selling consumable products? Here I look at what makes storytelling so effective for food and drink brands, and share a few ideas of how to discover stories your customers will engage with.

Why food and drink brands use storytelling

We are spoilt for choice when it comes to the weekly grocery shop, buying a takeout or indulging in a special treat on high days and holidays! So our buying decisions will be based partially on price, particularly when purchasing household staples like canned and dry goods, but also on our feelings about products and brands.

Perhaps we’ve always bought a particular brand of teabag because that’s what we grew up with and it gives us, even subconsciously, a feeling of nostalgia and homeliness. Or maybe we’re attracted to a brand of craft beer because it’s values are aligned with ours; such as supporting local producers, buying from sustainable businesses, or a brand that invests in social programmes. Whatever the reason, these buying decisions don’t have a lot to do with price or taste!

In fact, often these feelings will override practical considerations like price. The food and drink brands we buy can tell a psychologist a lot about our aspirations, emotional wellbeing, values and upbringing!

Therefore, knowing what customers are looking for on an emotional level from the food and drink brands they buy from is very important. When we know this we can create engaging stories that help them choose between your brand and your competitors.

Here are a few ideas of how to do it:

Your history – classic ads like Ridley Scott’s Hovis advert firmly place the brand in the nostalgia category but also build on the longevity and consistency of the product.  However, you don’t need to have been in business for over 100 years to base your brand story around your history.

The reasons your company was formed, its ethos and values may all be important factors that will engage customers and make your products stand out. Many food and drink businesses have been created because their founders are passionate about their products, doing things differently or plugging a gap in the market. These stories will help your business differentiate itself and encourage customers to try your products. Then it’s down to you to deliver a product they’ll come back for.

Your location – demand for local products continues to grow with even big supermarkets like Morrisons getting in on the act with their Local Foodmakers programme. If you can attract sufficient customers because your product is local, that’s a great story to focus on.

You don’t have to operate on a farmer’s market scale (based within 30-50 miles of the market), customers are also attracted to national brands rather than buying from a large multinational brand. You may also find that regional authenticity is a great brand story, appealing to customers who want to support producers who are preserving regional specialities, traditional recipes and production methods.

Your values – consumers are increasingly making buying decisions based on ethical considerations. Why buy a product from a company with no interest in having a positive impact socially or environmentally when a similarly priced product is available from a producer who does?

Customers may also be prepared to pay more for a product from a business that shares their values, which is why you need to tell them so they know that buying your product is having an impact.

Your people – as well as your founders, the people who produce your products are also a great source of brand stories. They may be suppliers that produce key elements of your products such as a local beekeeper who provides honey for your gin (see this short social media story we produced for distillers Silent Pool), the people that work in your business, or the people that sell your products in shops, markets and online.

Think about how they enhance your brand and whether these stories will appeal to your customers too.

Your customers –the buying decision for many food and drink products is a lifestyle choice more than a necessity, and therefore your existing customers’ stories can provide the emotional hook your brand needs.

Ask yourself what is it about your brand that appeals to customers. Could it be a handmade element that attracts people who have no time to make a product from scratch? Are there cultural associations that they identify with? Or is health and wellbeing important to them and your products can support these lifestyle goals? These motivating factors can provide lots of inspiration for stories that your customers will identify with and aspire to.

Storytelling is not just for creating brand videos, once you’ve identified your brand stories you should use them consistently in all your marketing. However, video is particularly effective at telling stories and communicating key messages about your brand.

Although we can’t yet let customers taste and smell your products in a video, they do stimulate two very important senses. With the right brand story and the right video, the combined effect of both can be highly emotive and engaging, helping customers make that buying decision and experience your products for themselves.

See what goes into making video content

If you would like further advice on creating brand videos please browse our blog articles or get in touch directly. We’d be happy to discuss the stories behind your food and drink brand and help you engage with customers on an emotional level. Call 01252 717707 or email

Rob Edmonds

Author Rob Edmonds

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