Storytelling in Financial Services: 7 Key Considerations to Enhance Effectiveness

Brand storytelling in financial services firms have been used by the most successful businesses for years and can be an enormously effective marketing tactic for promoting your company’s image. It’s one of the most important aspects of a personalised content marketing strategy. You can take your target audience on a journey they want to explore and experience by using personal stories.

Brand Storytelling by Financial Services

The stories you use to portray your brand  must be authentic, intriguing, creative, and fascinating in order for prospects and clients to develop a strong connection with your brand.

“After food, shelter, and company, stories are the thing we need most in the world,” stated according to Philip Pullman. In this post we  look at some of the key areas relevant to brand storytelling in financial services.

Learn how to use the power of storytelling 

We know that consumer brands have used storytelling to engage their audiences for many years. John Deere, the tractor company have for instance been telling stories since the 1970’s through magazine publications.

When we look at storytelling in financial services though, this approach is relatively new, although extremely relevant. In Corporate finance and for most financial services businesses continue to use the same old list of statistics. Innovative brands in the field are employing storytelling tactics in order differentiate themselves in the market.

Importance of Brand Storytelling in Financial Services

Despite the industry’s intrinsic complexity and diversity, financial services firms are sometimes regarded as similar to each other. Can you for instance clearly outline how Barclays and Lloyds are different, or how a brand like Revolut communicates differently to Monzo or N26?

Recognise and illustrate your brand’s personal influence.

Your services might not always be straight forward for customers to understand and remember and they might be embarrassed to admit this.  Consumers are eager to learn how to handle their finances properly.

Creating practical guides for various target audiences will demonstrate excellent customer service while establishing your financial firm as an expert and thought leader, complete with personal tales to back up all of the information.

Make Your Brand Relatable

It’s difficult for financial services companies to cultivate their story and communicate personal tales about their brands. However, if they do it properly, incorporating their clients’ experiences, they will be able to generate more attention and thus leads.

As many find financial services are seemingly quite abstract, one of the benefits of storytelling in financial services firms is that it makes brands relatable.

We know that product differentiation in financial businesses are quite minimal. Prospects place a greater emphasis on experience rather than financial products. They may bring their work to life by creating realistic content that connects with the emotions of their viewers.

By humanising financial service brands and making them emotionally attached to their customers, storytelling can help to break through stereotypes.

You can grab their attention and keep them interested.

You will know that stories all us to present abstract information in an easy-to-understand and quick-to-communicate manner.

The reason for this is simple: Conversation is the first step in telling a story. And what industry generates more conversation and debate other than the financial services industry?

For us as marketers, these conversations are crucial to engaging our audiences in a profitable manner. Recording experiences and  stories and bringing them to life through using relevant and engaging content is crucial. 

“We are creatures of story, and the process of altering one mind or the entire globe must begin with ‘Once upon a time,'” writes Jonathan Gottschall, author of The Storytelling Animal.

Financial services companies can write their own stories using this five-step process.

1. Capture the unprocessed financial data

The physical presence and people in a financial services firm is at the sharp end of customer engagement. These experiences and conversations, compliments and complaints, success stories and challenges, is a real opportunity to create relatable stories.

Don’t ever underestimate the influence of the personal experience between two people. This is what your customers will remember and what others will relate to.

So how do we capture this?

At the start, management buy-in will be crucial. Make sure that customer facing employees have access to the tools to record interactions for use in your content.  This can be as basic as a few questions the employee answers on their conversation with the client. What was the customer interested in, what were the reasons he/she was there on that day, were there any specific pain points?

Provide incentives. Your employees will be busy and often feel that they don’t have time to write down each client interaction. So how will they benefit from doing this? You could use financial or non-financial incentives. The employee with most client insights at the end of the week gets Friday afternoon off for example.  

Because of the relevance of financial storytelling to brand recognition and overall customer perception, these goals can be linked to performance measures.

2. Figure out what makes a good story

Businesses such as Nike and Accenture who have been ahead of the storytelling curve for many years, evaluate the strength and attractiveness of their story based content by considering the following:

  • Is it up to the “Why Should I Care” challenge?
  • Is it surprising to you?
  • Is it appealing to everyone?
  • Will it be of interest to your target market?
  • Is it something new that you’ve never seen before?
  • Is it distinct from what your competitors have to offer?
  • Is the quality of your material being evaluated in a systematic way?

Other criteria may exist in your company, but this basic set is a solid place to start when evaluating stories.

3. Transform basic stories into useful content

Creating content that is relevant to your target market and can be distributed on the channels they visit often will be key to the effectiveness of your communication. Storytelling in financial services can take various forms: a long-form essay with compelling writing and visuals, a series of captivating podcasts, or short videos or meme’s illustrating the stories your customers might find entertaining, educational or engaging.

The decision of how and were  to communicate the story boils down to:

  • Your customer personas, what they have in common, what they are passionate about and how this relates to your brand.
  • Your content medium should mirror the consumption tastes of your target audience, whether it’s millennials or midmarket executives. Longer-form storytelling, for example, may be less engaging to a mobile-first audience than digestible, quick-hitting anecdotes.
  • Your main source of information. How can you package your story to give your audience a more complete experience? A video might serve as your anchor, but a connected podcast could help you go further into a particularly intriguing piece.
  • Your channels of communication. If your audience consumes brand content on YouTube, video should be a focal point of your social media strategy. If blogs appeal to you, you may use LinkedIn’s built-in publishing tool to convey your financial story.

4. Make a list of potential storytellers

Now that you’ve established your content genres, it’s time to consider the most credible and relevant tellers of these stories. Quality writers and editors are essential if articles are your major narrative medium. Unlike educational pieces with tips and how-to techniques, writing financial tales is a journalistic style that requires the correct intuition, training, and expertise.

If live-action video is your preferred medium, who you feature on camera must be carefully considered. Your in-house personnel and your clientele are both excellent choices.

Your in-house subject matter specialists know the pulse of the client base and can leverage that knowledge to generate compelling, relatable stories. It’s also priceless to have your customers tell your brand’s narrative for you.

Working with third-party specialists is a good way to give your audience a familiar face. This third-party expert should ideally have a prominent blog and a large social following, allowing you to tap into that audience and bring them to your content centre.

5. Meet your customers where they are

It is important to understand on which channels your customers cn be found on. Brands need to distribute stories through the channels where customers already are. It is far more difficult to change the media consumption behaviour of your target market.

I would argue that the the effectiveness of brand stories are at least 50% due to choosing the right communication channels to distribute a story through.

Let me reiterate this. Finding your target customer on the channels where THEY are and engaging them there with the right story at the right time will significantly improve the effectiveness of your storytelling.

People are eager to tell their story. People react to stories by contributing their own, whether it’s on social media, a blog platform, website comments, or other channels. You never know what kind of user-generated content will emerge from a forum like that.

Don’t forget that stories can be a very effective way of internal marketing. Internally, sharing these stories raises employee awareness and encourages buy-in for future content endeavours. Remember that as a financial services organisation, your personnel in the field are the ones who tell the tales.

6. Leveraging User Generated Stories

One of the key benefits of storytelling in financial services is relatable nature of stories. Great stories are easy to relate to and easy to remember. Another key feature of effective stories are they are easy to tell others. So your customers in other words can become storytellers themselves. What is the word-of-mouth marketing if it is not stories being told by happy customers to their friends and colleagues?

The better the experience is which customers have when engaging with your brand, the more likely they will be to start telling stories of their own. Stories of how they were delighted. Stories about the success their investments have achieved. Stories about the reasons why they never use any of your competitors. These stories can once again be incentivised. Consider for instance the success of the Ikea Facebook campaign.

This is a basic example of happy customers telling stories to their friends about a brand on social media.

7. Measure and Adjust

The last step in any communication or customer engagement tactic will be to understand if its working. As we as digital marketers today have so much opportunity to measure client engagement or response in real time, this has to be integrated into any strategy where storytelling in financial services is being deployed.

Before the days of digital marketing, we had to ask people of they have seen our campaigns or wait to see if sales or enquires increased.

That is not the case any longer today. With access to the right data and analytics tools we can monitor the effectiveness of our stories, the creation of new stories by our customers and even the results, such as website visits or client enquires which stories are generating.

It’s not easy to implement a financial storytelling strategy, but following these seven stages will help you lay the groundwork for content marketing success.

If you need support and want to find out more about our digital marketing servicescontact us for a free consultation wit a member of our team.

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