William Shakespeare, Britain’s favourite Bard was born 450 years ago this week. He was one of many celebrated playwrights of the Renaissance era but he is undoubtedly the one whose stories have captured the hearts and minds of generation upon generation.

In today’s multi-channel and global media environment it has become more and more important for brands to tell their stories in an impactful and engaging way. So what tips can brands take from Shakespeare on making an engaging story?  

1.     “An honest tale speeds best being plainly told.” Richard III

Keep it simple. Today’s consumers are bombarded by messages from brands via a large number of channels. The most effective stories that cut through this noise are the ones that are easy to understand. 

2.      “And so, from hour to hour, we ripe and ripe, And then from hour to hour, we rot and rot; And thereby hangs a tale.” As You Like It

The best tales are those that people can relate to. Make your story something universal that your consumer cares about and can understand. The most memorable stories are those that engage our emotions; stories of love, life, death, fear etc.

3.     “You speak an infinite deal of nothing” Merchant of Venice

Say something meaningful. Some brands say an awful lot but don’t say anything that matters to their consumers. Saying an awful lot of nothing will switch consumers off and stop them engaging with you in the future because as we all know “nothing will come of nothing” (King Lear in case you’re wondering).

4.     “Into a thousand parts divide on man, And make imaginary puissance; Think when we talk of horses, that you see them printing their proud hoofs i' the receiving earth; For 'tis your thoughts that now must deck our kings” Henry V

Engage your audience’s imagination. People like to be entertained and stories at their heart are entertainment. The stories that people remember are the magical ones that brought their imagination to life. 

Tom Sharp is junior business development executive at Hill+Knowlton Strategies UK.