I came across an article in Rolling Stone last June, and it’s been bugging me ever since. The article below, by Anthony Coppers, presents a bold thesis. He calls for a universal shift in strategy for all marketers — from brand storytelling to brand “storyliving.” Essentially, he’s marketing his agency’s position of abandoning relevant narratives for deeper, more immersive experiences — so audiences can live the story of your brand, instead of only hearing about it.

Anthony writes, “talk is cheap; actions speak.” And on the surface, he is right. I cannot tell you how many brands we have worked with that start with big ambitions, but ultimately fade when presented with a big opportunity that comes with even a small amount of risk. But what this article presumes is a world where all brands have the resources to choose brand storyliving over brand storytelling.

Firstly: the idea that storytelling and storyliving are mutually exclusive is misleading.

Storytelling forms the backbone of any successful marketing strategy. It’s through the compelling narrative that a brand builds its identity, shapes its mission and communicates its values to the audience. Dismissing storytelling as “brands talking too much” oversimplifies the strategic role it plays in building and maintaining a robust brand identity.

Take Patagonia, for instance. It has built a strong brand narrative centered around sustainability and love for the outdoors. This narrative isn’t mere talk; it’s the driving force behind the brand’s identity and mission. It is what informs their storyliving initiatives, such as their commitment to environmental causes.

This brings us to the second point: storytelling is not the antithesis of action.

On the contrary, it often serves as the catalyst for it. In the case of Patagonia, it’s the brand’s strong narrative that propels it to create immersive, action-oriented experiences for its customers, thereby effectively merging storytelling with storyliving.

This brings us to the third — and most obvious — point: budgets.

The article argues that brands should “stop talking and start doing.” However, “doing” in this case is connecting people to brands through impactful, immersive physical, digital or hybrid encounters. Immersive physical, digital or Hybrid? For 95% of brands and marketing teams this type of tactical approach simply isn’t possible. Our brands need to be much more strategic about how, where and when they spend their precious annual marketing budgets. Part of our job at Shinebox is actually helping our clients find ways to stretch their budgets to create more impressions with fewer touchpoints.

Brands need relationships for experiences to be meaningful.

This always has, and always will be true. Successful storytelling fosters an emotional connection, which is paramount to the deeper relationships legacy brands have with their audiences. An immersive, tactical experience means little if there isn’t a compelling foundation for the relationship of brand and consumer.

So while the concept of “storyliving” sounds like an exciting way for brands to engage with their audience, it doesn’t replace storytelling but rather complements it. Anything else is a false choice.

Is this what brand "Storyliving" looks like?