A few thoughts on storytelling…

Storytelling is certainly a ‘buzz word’ that has been going around in marketing for a few years now. It is one of the main components of a content marketing approach, but I feel that it is so much more than digital marketing.  A strong story, can breathe life into a brand, it can support the brand’s values and bring a brand alive. It creates connections with customers without blatantly selling to them. Most importantly, it needs to be authentic, creative and inspirational.

I recently met Chris Humphrey, an expert consultant in customer culture, strategy and experiences. His company is called ‘Pelorus Jack’. I immediately asked myself who is Pelorus Jack? Well, he was a Risso dolphin that guided ships through the particularly dangerous of stretch of water in the Cook Straight between Wellington and Nelson, New Zeland from 1888 to 1912.  Many ships would wait for him to appear before they chose to sail this challenging sea. I immediately connected with this story, and it says so much about Chris and his approach to guiding brands.

Pelorus Jack

If you are travelling to Bangkok, check out KarmaKarmet Secret World.  It is not just a café, but also an artisan parfumeur. I often travel on my own and when discovering this little beauty, I was immediately captivated.  From the delicious fragrances that waft throughout the retail section (an ideal spot for gift-shopping) to the storytelling in their cafe,  every touch has been carefully thought through. Most of all, I loved their table mats and drinks coasters.  The latter, are folded handwritten airmail letters between two family members. I found myself running around trying to collect as many as possible to see where the story goes.

The KarmaKarmet Times as a place mat
Family letters as glass coasters

One of my favourite projects, when working at Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill was researching Sir Winston Churchill for the newly designed Churchill Bar.  So much has been written on Britain’s greatest leader, we decided to focus on the love between Sir Winston and his wife Lady Clementine.  On spending some time at Chartwell (Winston and Clementine’s former residence and now part of the National Trust) we learnt so much about the love between Sir Winston and Lady Clementine. From how Clementine would place a fresh jar of roses on his desk every day, to their shared passion for animals to Sir Winston’s membership of the small but rather wonderful charity, The Winkle Club. One of my favourite stories, was when he removed a book from his library, he would insert one of his children’s stuffed toys in its place to remember where to return it.

Sir Winston & Clementine Churchill

During our tour we noticed that we were followed around the garden by a ginger Tom cat, then Jock V. On donating the house to the National Trust, Sir Winston said that there must always be a ginger Tom cat living at Chartwell. Now there is Jock VI. All of these stories came alive in the bar, from the handwritten love letters between Sir Winston and Lady Clementine, to the uniforms designed by Henry Poole, Churchill’s tailor, and to Jock, Rufus and Pig, three hand-knitted animals. Jock I have already described above, Rufus was the name of both Churchill’s poodles and Pig was one of the animals that Churchill would draw as he signed off his love letters to Clementine.  They are situated amongst the books within the bar, all with their own story to tell. Larry from The Arbuturian, shared all our stories in this video.

Yes, the content marketing side is important. However, if there is no authentic story, some campaigns can feel fabricated and artificial. My advice is research, research, research and listen, you never know what you can find. Story telling can come alive through the history of a building, through art and design and through the narrative of a particular person.  If it is an authentic story, it will bring guest facing experiences alive, a story that colleagues will want to share will be a key component to differentiating a brand from its competitors.  

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  1. This is really great Hen, I love your words, you write unbelievably well and it’s really engaging and beautiful to read xx


  2. Well done Henny, another lovely piece that helped me understand your work at Hyatt Regency London much better. I must check out that bar!

    Liked by 1 person

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