This past year witnessed the mainstream development of brand stories. The top 25 brand stories released over the past year amassed an average of 1.9 million views per month. Spanning from heartwarming to heart-lifting, the best performers touched on some key themes showing that tears work nearly as well as laughs when connecting emotionally to target audiences.

Results of a study showed that the highest performance is reached when brand stories are about:

1.      Female Confidence

2.      Unlikely Friendship

3.      Pushing Limits

4.      Spirit of Giving

5.      The Unforgotten

Stories of Female Confidence topped the list as young girls in particular are encouraged to see themselves in a better light. Unlikely Friendships come in second as they touch upon themes of harmony and peace. Stories about Pushing the Limits taps into the inner self that seeks encouragement to overcome severe life battles or achieve greatness.

Following the great success of WestJet's Christmas Miracle, others pursued the Spirit of Giving to bring tears to the eyes of those surprised with unexpected gifts. Finally, a number of stories are developing along the lines of those feeling their sacrifices were unappreciated. The Unforgotten includes familiar tales of hard working moms and soldiers surprised with rewards for their acts of generosity.

Shown above is a rank ordering of these Top 25 stories. The term story, in this case, refers to narratives encompassing a familiar story arc that includes a hero, challenges and overcoming obstacles.

What other stories released recently do you feel were testimony of brand story trends?

James Barry, D.B.A., is an Associate Professor of Marketing in the Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship, Nova Southeastern University. He develops, teaches and consults on a variety of social media marketing subjects. He can be reached at