How Advertising Agencies Use Storytelling To Build Brands

December 11, 2023 | blog | By Mike Sullivan

Storytelling is an art. Advertising agencies use that art to persuade, to change, to inspire. Effective advertising storytelling weaves a compelling brand narrative that creates an emotional connection with the target audience. Going far beyond showcasing product features, such narratives are a nuanced dance of values, emotions, and shared experiences that define your brand. For challenger brands seeking to forge profound connections with their audiences, advertising storytelling is an essential part of a challenger strategy and can play a transformative role. And the best advertising agencies know how to tap into the power of storytelling to deliver breakthrough, memorable messages.

The Best Advertising Agencies use Humor To Get Serious

When Rug Doctor approached LOOMIS, wanting to stand out in the competitive carpet cleaning machine market, we knew we couldn’t just tout their product features, outstanding though they were. So we dug in, immersing ourselves in their story to learn how to tell it in a challenger branding way. It was a behind-the-scenes tour of Rug Doctor’s real-life R&D lab in Fenton, Missouri that provided the inspiration we needed.

Creating the fictional “Institute of Clean,” we told a humorous retail marketing story that focused on the transformational journey of a cleaning enthusiast who discovers the secrets of optimal cleanliness. We created a fictional “Institute” that reflected Rug Doctor’s commitment to innovation and their passion for easier, more effective cleaning.

The Institute of Clean is personified by the DOC (Director of Clean) — a quirky, likeable, guy who uses humor to drive home Rug Doctor’s serious obsession with cleaning. The DOC uses storytelling to guide the audience through a variety of relatable yet over-the-top real-life messes that demonstrate how well the Rug Doctor system works.

We included the kinds of demos we saw during our R&D tour, seeing the power in the dirty water pour.

As part of our storytelling process, we coined a new word to express the feeling inspired by the visual of the dirty water pour: the dirt that was in your carpets moments ago as it flowed down the drain. “Disgustifaction” perfectly embodied the emotions that bubble up during that experience. To enhance the storytelling, we seeded the word in social media with a hashtag and even placed it in Urban Dictionary.

The Best Advertising Agencies Use Compelling Narratives.

Religious organizations often face the challenge of connecting with diverse audiences. The United Methodist Church was trying to reach parents with young children, a segment most likely to be looking for a church home. By enlisting UMC children to tell the church’s story, LOOMIS allowed the kids to authentically talk about the benefits of being a part of a church family in a way that parents could project onto their own children.

The challenger branding approach of the Live Childlike advertising campaign showcased testimonials of kids finding inspiration and purpose both from their lived church experiences and the strong faith that those experiences inspired. We interviewed over 60 kids and compiled enough footage to edit a two-year, integrated non-profit marketing campaign with the kind of emotional impact that would make any advertising agency say, “I wish we’d done that.”

Covering deep and meaningful topics like love, equality, and questions for God, the conversations always touched on the brand’s pillars of “putting beliefs into action.”

Advertising storytelling delivered. The challenger branding campaign engaged parents, driving over 230K users to the UMC website in the span of 18 months, driving newsletter sign-ups and location searches, inspiring over 20K complete website article reads and 5,000 complete video views.

The Best Advertising Agencies Keep the Things That Matter Most Top of Mind.

Our work for Texas Oncology is another example of how LOOMIS has earned the reputation as one of the top advertising agencies in the area.

After receiving a cancer diagnosis, patients are dealing with fear and confusion. We wanted to make sure they remembered the Texas Oncology brand when it came to figuring out what to do next and where to go for treatment. The best way to ensure that new cancer patients remembered the brand in the midst of an overwhelming, emotional time was to connect with them through storytelling.

As a cancer care provider with hundreds of locations across the state, Texas Oncology offers leading edge technology and comprehensive care from renowned cancer experts. Cancer patients don’t have to choose between the best care available and staying close to their loved ones – something proven to play a vital role in an overall treatment plan. From a challenger branding perspective, the Right Here campaign conceived and produced by LOOMIS made the Texas Oncology brand promise memorable through the stories of both real and fictional cancer patients.

The advertising campaign highlighted the small, seemingly everyday moments of patients’ lives they would miss traveling long distances for cancer care: from tucking the kids into bed to morning coffee on your patio, dinner with your spouse, and sleeping in your own bed.

Storytelling brought these moments to life and humanized the Texas Oncology brand with a narrative that communicated empathy, instilled hope, and inspired trust. This challenger brand approach to healthcare marketing not only set Texas Oncology apart from other cancer care providers but kept the brand top of mind when the decision of where to seek cancer treatment needed to be made.

The Best Advertising Agencies Take A Challenger Approach.

As a top Dallas advertising agency, we know that the art of storytelling can serve as a powerful marketing tool for challenger brands. It goes beyond traditional advertising by creating emotional connections, building brand values, and engaging audiences on a deeper level. A compelling narrative as part of a retail marketing, healthcare marketing, or non-profit marketing plan can drive brand differentiation, spark cultural phenomena, and establish a lasting presence in the hearts and minds of consumers.

In a world inundated with messages, compelling narratives are an ingredient that can make a brand unforgettable. The art of advertising storytelling goes beyond telling a good story. Compelling narratives help advertising agencies bring to life experiences that resonate, inspire, and leave an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of the audience — ensuring our clients’ brands not only stand out but also forge enduring connections that transcend the ordinary.

MIKE SULLIVAN is president and CEO at LOOMIS, the country’s leading challenger brand advertising agency and a top Dallas advertising agency for digital, social, mobile and user experience. For more about challenger branding, advertising, and marketing, leadership, culture, and other inspirations that will drive your success, visit our blog BARK! The Voice of the Underdog and catch up on all of our posts.

For more about LOOMIS, or to discuss how we can help your company succeed, CLICK HERE

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Mike Sullivan

President at LOOMIS, the country’s leading challenger brand advertising agency


We challenge underdog brands to think differently. We help them find their voice, and urge them to blaze new trails to make sure they stand out from the pack. Whether you need an agency of record or support on a project, we are here to help you win.