4 Ways to Tell a Better Story

Grace Wagner

October 6, 2017

Featured image from video essay by Lewis Bond of Channel Criswell called “Colour in Storytelling.”

The beautiful thing about video is it allows for endless ways to tell a story. The key is to be creative and let your passion (and these 4 tips) guide you.


Remember the last time you laughed out loud or got choked up from a video? And you probably even shared it, didn’t you? (You had to! It was that good!) There’s no denying emotional content engages viewers. This type of storytelling plays to a viewer’s emotions so they take away a feeling from the video. Humans often make decisions based on the way they feel about something. When selling a product or service, it’s more likely a consumer will purchase if they feel emotionally connected to it in some way. This can be done by telling an impactful story in your ads and videos that you know will resonate with your target audience. Consider using emotional triggers that are appropriate to your brand’s story – whether it be family, love, or loss – to appeal to your audience. A well told emotional story can grab your audience’s attention and convert them to lifelong customers.

Watch how MAKE used emotion to create this impactful film for Reading Health System.


Before you begin scouting locations or purchasing any props, and definitely before you begin discussing of lighting, you need to decide on a color palette for the film. Colors tell a story of their own. They set the mood for a piece, usually before dialogue has even started. Is your story about anger, passion, desire, or violence? Consider using red hues throughout your video. Are you telling a story of extravagance, wealth, and grandeur? Consider using gold accents throughout your video. Every color in your video, from the makeup on the talent, to the props in your scene, to the editing choices in post production, should be thoughtfully planned out to help tell a cohesive story. The palette should be decided upon and carefully considered throughout the entire process so that the video has colors that evoke feelings and express messaging that are true to your story.

In an article published on Lights Film School, the author discusses a video essay by Lewis Bond of Channel Criswell called “Colour in Storytelling.” In regards to the video, the author states, “Bond takes us from the silent era to the present day, exploring how color can be used to differentiate stories, set atmosphere, and direct attention.” Learn more in the video essay below.


An authentic and sometimes easier way to tell a story is to use true stories told by real people. Audiences are more likely to relate to a video when they are told a real story instead of a written one. Consumers are smarter than ever. We know when an ad is telling a fabricated story or using an actor. We want real. We want authentic. We don’t want to be fed the ‘company line’ anymore. Using real people and their stories resonates with audiences in a much more authentic way. To find these real stories, tap into your current customer base and turn them into your brand ambassadors. They are already loyal customers who may have stories they are willing to tell.

The pet insurance company Trupanion wanted to create a marketing video that impacted viewers enough that they would feel connected with the video and dig further into learning more about Trupanion as a company and the pet insurance they offer. To do this, they produced videos of real people and their pets. Sometimes, the videos aren’t about pet insurance at all, they’re simply about the the animal and its owner. These real stories build familiarity with Trupanion’s name without doing a hard sell, which really resonates with audiences.


Use the power of video to your advantage – tell your story visually, with limited use of words (or none at all). Rather than relying on a voiceover to tell your story, use meaningful and impactful shots to engage your audience and tell your story. Try writing out a show and tell. This is a guideline that describes what you will be filming and showing on screen, and what the voiceover or words will tell that accompany the show. Challenge yourself to create a video that is 75% show and only 25% tell. Take into consideration that more and more, consumers are watching videos on their phones without sound. What is your video showing the audience if they listen to it without any sound? Does your message get across the same?

Lush Cosmetics is well known for their product displays in their stores, but they know the only way to get anyone to see these displays is to get them in the door. Lush uses online “how-to” videos on YouTube and Facebook to market their products. They know their audience is mainly watching videos on their phone with no sound, so they tailored their videos to fit their consumer’s behavior. Take the following video, for instance, which uses no voiceover at all. While there are graphics that help explain the how-to of using a specific face mask, the video is all visual and tells you a story – with no talking at all!


Be mindful of these ways to tell your next story and you’ll have your audience engaged, feeling connected to your brand, and sharing your video content!

There are so many ways to tell great stories – leave a comment to share ways that you’ve found to be effective.