Does Your Company Need A Brand Story? Absolutely.

  • Brand stories help the consumer to connect with your company on a deeper level
  • Brand stories aren’t about putting the company at the center, it’s about making the consumer the hero and the company the guide
  • Stories work on a deeper psychological level than fact-based marketing

Why Your Business Needs a Brand Story

Have you ever read something that connected with you? Maybe it made you laugh, think, or cry? Hit you right in the feels? About 10 years ago I read The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. I still remember reading it years ago and having to put it down multiple times because it was so powerful and so moving, and I was crying so much, I couldn’t see the words on the page. Here I am, many years later and if you ask me about that book I still remember that feeling.

Now let’s think about your company. When someone asks what you do, what do you say? Do you start listing out the problems you solve? The customers you serve? Riveting.

Ask that person what you do a few days later and I’m going to bet they don’t remember, or they misremember what you told them. That’s because when the brain senses that it’s being pitched or sold to, it has a natural cognitive reaction to resist. It pushes back.

Now if we were to relay what you do in a simple, but engaging story format something very different happens. Your brain actually takes that information and claims it as it’s own- as if they found it. That’s because your mind spends 30% of it’s waking time daydreaming– when you work, drive, etc. But when you are watching a movie, reading a great book, or listening to a great story, your brain doesn’t daydream: That story is doing the daydreaming for you. The story has literally taken over the brain.

Stories go beyond a product. They resonate because they’re human. They hit you in the feels.

It’s not a list of features. It’s not telling them how great your company is, all the great things you’ve done, or all the people who love you. It’s about the customer, your hero. Your company is merely the guide or the helper to get the hero to the finish line.

And you don’t have to take my word for it. A recent study shows that when you read stories that evoke emotion, it stimulates the brain and even changes how you act.

What’s a Brand Story?

A company’s brand story isn’t about throwing together a quick persona and then using it in your PowerPoints and explainer videos. It has a narrative that carries through your site, sales pitch, marketing campaigns, brand voice, logo, and branding. It’s using the best elements of writing to develop a storyline that creates a personality customers can connect with.

[Cue the obligatory Apple-Steve Jobs anecdote.]

When Apple re-emerged with the iPod Classic, it was a story. And it wasn’t a story that revolved around Apple or Steve Jobs. It was about the user and their connection to the music and how they made it easier for people to store, access and listen to the music they loved. And while Apple was part of the story, it was a guide, an assistant to get the hero – YOU – closer to your music. Apple has one of the most loyal, – almost to the point of illogical – fan bases. They are part of the fabric of the user’s everyday life. They are not just well-liked, they are BELOVED.

How Do You Create a Brand Story?

Your story should be built around your hero, and that hero isn’t your company. The hero is your customer. And just like in any good story the hero is a well-developed character who experiences a conflict that’s resolved with the help of a guide.

Creating a brand story is an art and a craft. It takes a lot of work, research, and editing. It makes knowing your target audience at a level that goes beyond just the demographics- it goes to psychographics. What does your ideal customer worry about? What are they struggling with? How does that struggle make them feel? Using the best practices from thousands of years of storytelling and creative writing ensures that you have a story that injects personality into your brand- and your personality and story are what your customer connects with.

The Intern Experience

Colin Dame: Advertising Major, Temple University, Class of 2019

Here at LevLane, helping students prepare for the corporate world through our intern program is something that, as a company, we pride ourselves on. We take their contributions seriously and we welcome the many innovative and fresh ideas they bring to the table. In fact, many of our best and hardest working team members began their careers with us as interns.

Colin Dame has had a similar journey and recently wrote an essay describing what his intern experience has been like with LevLane thus far. So, in his own words, and with his usual quirky spin on things, here is Colin’s intern experience…with a twist.

What Rihanna Taught Me About the Advertising Industry

By: Colin Dame

While earning my bachelor’s degree in Advertising at Temple University I participated in LevLane’s Intern program. For the past two semesters, I have been splitting my time between studying for my degree and learning everything I can about the inner workings of an ad agency.

As you may know, advertising agencies are high-pressure incubators for marketing and creative professionals. What you might not know is that Rihanna totally interned at an ad agency before she started singing. In fact, one of her most popular songs gives deep insight into what it’s like at an agency…well, kind of. I’ve broken down some of those lyrics into lessons any aspiring intern can use in the day-to-day.

The Lyric: You see me I be work, work, work, work, work, work

The Lesson: Ask For More Work

Rihanna gets it! Agency life is about putting in the work, work, work, work, work, work. But even in the slow moments, you need to get the most out of your time as an intern. Tasks run dry? Ask the media department if they need help with some reporting. Recently, I stepped in to help our SEO director with some keyword research, a vital skill for any aspiring content marketer, web developer or social media strategist; not to mention an easy resume builder!

The Lyric: You see me do me dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt

The Lesson: Ask For Help

What you do isn’t dirt! Everything you do is to help your client’s business. But you’re not a seasoned adperson…yet – there’s no reason you should know everything. There have been times when a manager has given me an assignment, and 10 minutes into it, I had no idea what was going on. It’s crucial to ask for clarification. Your supervisors completely understand that agency-talk can be a foreign language to you.

The Lyric: There’s something ’bout that work, work, work, work, work, work

The Lesson: Get Involved Wherever You Can

Agency life includes a lot of different interactions with clients – they are the folks paying you after all! Sitting in on meetings is a great way to better understand business communications in an agency. In meetings, you will learn when to talk, to whom to talk, how to talk, and what to say. Incorporating those fundamentals will take you far in this client-centric world.

The Lyric: When you a gon’ learn, learn, learn, learn, learn, learn

The Lesson: Go Outside Your Department

If you’re lucky enough to work at a full-service agency, you’ll quickly realize that the people there all do very different things. Introduce yourself to someone new every day. Chat with an art director about what their process looks like. Introduce yourself to someone you haven’t met before. If people in the office know your name and know what work you’ve contributed to, you lay the groundwork to making great network connections or a chance to join the agency full-time.

The Lyric: Me na care if me tired, tired, tired, tired, tired, tired

The Lesson: Self-Care is Key

You’re driven. That’s why you’re an intern, right? You want the best possible job out of college because you want to produce the best work. Well, you can’t do that if you’re running on empty with a flat tire. Nix going out 5 nights a week, and go get some sleep! Your future self and career will thank you.

Attach the Attachment

Ok, not a lyric, but it’s so important to be present during this experience. Take each moment one step at a time, and don’t think 6 steps ahead. If you’re sending your supervisor a deliverable, she’s never going to know how beautifully thought out it is if you forget to actually attach the attachment. Proof and edit each assignment with superb detail, and your supervisors will love you for what little work they will need to do to anything you turn in. Trust me, the easier you make their job the happier they’ll be!

Yes, being an intern is a requirement for graduating but if you do it right it can most certainly work to your advantage. A few reminders: do your research, find an internship that is the right fit for you and immerse yourself in any way you can within the company and you will get the most out of your intern program! Hopefully, these tips help you in your journey to become the next top CCO, CMO (or agency intern turned superstar if you decide to follow in Rihanna’s footsteps instead).

LevLane Wins Five Trophies from Art Directors Club of Philadelphia’s 2016 Louix Awards

LevLaners Show Love to Adoptions From The Heart

Each November, the walls and doorways of LevLane’s offices start to fill up with purple paper hearts – each one representing a dollar donation made to Adoptions From the Heart during National Adoption Month by a LevLane employee. Eventually, they form a sea of purple, and represent a sizable annual donation to AFTH from the LevLane staffers who donate. This annual tradition was started and is continued each year by VP, Digital Media Director Dan Hall, who’s been with LevLane for 13 years.

1. How and when did you first become aware of or get involved with Adoptions From the Heart?

We became involved through our son Matthew. We adopted Matthew through Adoptions From The Heart in 2010. When we decided to adopt, we looked at a few difference adoption agencies. Adoptions From the Heart seemed the most welcoming…the most open. Unlike some of the other agencies we met with Adoptions From The Heart didn’t care about your religion or your sexual preference. They just want you to provide a happy, healthy homes for children…to be a family. They also stressed the importance of openness between the adoptive parents and the birthmother, which can be scary for new adoptive parents. But we quickly learned how important openness and the adoption story is to the child. We selected Adoptions From the Heart and had a flawless experience. We were very fortunate. Now we have a family.

2. What made you want to support AFTH?

After we adopted Matthew, Adoptions From the Heart sent out a request for volunteer board members. My wife suggested I apply. They helped give me the greatest gift I will ever have in my life, so volunteering was the least I could do.  I applied. They accepted. I help in anyway I can.

3. What do the employee donations for Adoptions From The Heart go towards? 

Donations go to the Adoptions From the Heart Birthmother Fund.  The fund helps women who have had an unplanned pregnancy and are trying to make a tough choice during a difficult time in their life. Adoptions From the Heart provides free advice, counseling and financial support for these women in need.

4. Is it true that the total amount of donations made by LevLane employees each year is among the largest that AFTH receives?

They have many organizations that graciously contribute.  I am proud to say that LevLane is among the top contributors for this fund drive.

5. How does it feel to be the steward for what has become such a large, annual collection effort?

I have personally benefited greatly from the work Adoptions From the Heart does, but most folks in the office have never or will never need or use their services. Yet, they come into my office in droves with their hard-earned cash in hand willing to help out. It always warms my cold, black heart.

Here’s how to get the most from your agency internship

Gina Turdo, Public Relations Major, Rowan University Class of 2015

Gina Turdo, Public Relations Major, Rowan University Class of 2015

Two-term LevLane intern offers five top tips

Six months ago, I walked into LevLane as a public relations intern with little office experience, and not a clue of what to expect. For two semesters, I sat at the front desk in LevLane’s lobby greeting clients, helping them to their meetings, and feeling my heart sink when I could not match a face to the name of the colleague that the client was in to see. The frantic feeling quickly faded and my confidence grew as I began to work and interact more with my new co-workers.

My internship at LevLane has taught me about the industry I’m pursuing, what to expect from PR life inside an advertising agency, and most importantly, what is expected from me. My activities ranged from checking in dozens of media members at a big event, to contributing to blog posts and press releases, to sitting in on client calls and brainstorming meetings.

As terrifying as my first few months may have been, I now see what a gratifying opportunity it has been to watch such a successful integrated agency operate. In my final days at LevLane, I have been asked to share my top five intern tips, so that they might benefit other interns to follow:


As an intern you’re not supposed to know what to expect, and with that will always come nerves and uncertainty. No matter how unsure you are of yourself or your surroundings, a confident smile will always be the best way to smooth over any uncertainties that you may be experiencing.

Be prepared

From having multiple copies of your resume available when you arrive for your interview (trust me, you never how many people you will end up interviewing with), to always having pen and paper handy in case of being called into a meeting, being ready means you have it together. A trustworthy intern is never scrambling or unorganized, and although none of us start out like this, it should be your goal to leave this way.

Prove yourself

You have landed an internship, and you are right where you want to be – now it’s time to work. Intern work may seem mundane and unimportant, but in the grand scheme of things, intern tasks are often foundational layers for the work that comes next. Completing these tasks in an efficient and timely manner will not only prove your worth, it will improve the work and outcome for the agency. These experiences will also serve as great practice for you as a PR professional. Landing an internship alone does not prepare you for what may lie ahead, but presents you with an opportunity to immerse yourself in every task and to learn as much as possible.

Open up

Feeling like the lowest man on the totem pole will never be fun, but it’s easier if you open up to the people around you. There is nothing wrong with asking for help if you don’t understand something, and there is great reward in having the courage to respectfully add your input once you’re comfortable. Getting involved and reaching out to others is the absolute best way to break out of your comfort zone and form professional relationships – and even new friendships – along the way.

Learn and grow

Your internship will give you the opportunity to dive head first into an industry that you love, and will serve as a way for you to gain valuable experience you can’t get in a classroom. How much you absorb while you’re immersed in this world is completely up to you. Within this learning period, you have a unique opportunity to learn about yourself; take advantage of it. The experience will allow you to figure out what you like and what you don’t, who you are as a worker among others, and the truth about your shortcomings juxtaposed directly against your strengths. An internship does not just fulfill a credit requirement, or hold a place on your resume; an internship rubs your rough edges smooth, instills a new air of confidence, and helps you evolve into a professional who’s ready for anything.

By Gina Turdo, Public Relations Major, Rowan University Class of 2015