How to Leverage Pixar-Style Storytelling for Your Brand

Pixar stories have captured my imagination since first watching Toy Story on the silver screen in 1995. From the tear-jerking opening sequence of Up (I’m not crying. You’re crying.), to the ending of Toy Story 4, the folks at Pixar sure know how to hook us and keep us wanting more. Let’s look at how we can translate their storytelling lessons for your brand.

What’s Your Brand’s Hook?

Every Pixar film has a hook. A fish gets lost and must find their way home. A family of superheroes lives a mundane life after super-powered activities are banned by the government. A hook is your brand boiled down to its simplest form. To find it, you need to know your brand Inside Out (see what we did there?).

Get to know your credit union better with these simple (but not easy) questions:

  • What’s your brand all about?
  • Who are you? What do you stand for?
  • What separates you from other credit unions? (Hint: Everyone says member service. Find a stronger answer.)
  • What do your members say about you that hasn’t been said about your competition?

Make a Connection, Stat

Connection is crucial in all storytelling forms—be it for a worldwide—released movie or for a local credit union. Former Pixar storyteller Matthew Luhn spent over two decades helping shape the stories that influence our culture. In his book, The Best Story Wins, he points out the six universal themes of storytelling (listed below). Which category does your brand story fall under? Does it touch on multiple categories? Does it try to be all categories but needs to be more focused?

The six universal themes of storytelling:

  • Love and belonging
  • Safety and security
  • Freedom and spontaneity
  • Power and responsibility
  • Fun and playfulness
  • Awareness and understanding

Most importantly, is your brand’s story quickly connecting with members and prospects and maintaining that connection over time? If the audience doesn’t relate to your story, they won’t listen and they won’t care.

Who’s Your Hero?

Pixar films thrive on authenticity. Their characters, even if they’re talking piggy banks or anthropomorphized ants, feel real. They have hopes and dreams, and obstacles standing in the way of getting to them. We don’t need that hero to be human—we just need them to be relatable.

Who’s your credit union’s hero?

  • Are you putting your team in the role of hero? Credit unions are people helping people. Sounds pretty darn heroic to me.
  • Are your members your heroes? Credit unions are member-owned, after all.
  • Are your products your heroes? They help members achieve their dreams. If that isn’t heroic, I don’t know what is.

Once you’ve figured out your hero, how will you incorporate them into your brand story? Is the hero’s story at the core of your credit union’s story? Is your hero better suited for a marketing campaign?

Change is Everything

It’s the cornerstone of a story. And it’s why a prospect turns into a member. You’re providing the means to an important change in their lives. How is your brand focusing on the benefits of change it provides its members? What opportunities do you know you could capitalize on? What opportunities are you not seeing?

We’re Here to Help

You are people helping people—and we’re the people helping you. Going on 27 years, we’ve been working with credit unions to help them take both the guesswork and the fear out of those answers. It’s a game-changer to have an experienced, adaptable partner like Raoust at your side.

When’s the last time you took a deep dive into your credit union’s story and the “why” behind your marketing communications? Contact us to learn how our experience in credit union marketing can help grow your brand.

Doug Fraser
In addition to copywriting for Raoust+Partners, Doug Fraser is the producer and host of NPR’s What We Do and Podcast Movement’s The Pod Lab.

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