Branding with Powerful Stories

The Villains, Victims, and Heroes Model

by Greg Stone


Stories create "neural coupling," linking the speaker's and listener's brains and prolonging memory.

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Cover image for Branding with Powerful Stories

December 2018


Pages 204
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Business/Marketing, Advertising and Sales
  Business/Business Communications

Whether you are branding your company, your product, your service, or yourself, learn to boost the power of your story and convey a compelling message in any setting by incorporating villains, victims, and heroes.

Compelling stories exalt, motivate, and acculturate every worker in an enterprise. They also attract customers and media alike. Imagine an elderly man, snowed in, unable to shop for groceries until a supermarket comes to the rescue and delivers his food. The story of this company going out of its way to help a customer in need will resonate not only with consumers but also with employees.

This book explains not just how to tell a captivating story, but also what elements—namely, villains, victims, and heroes—it should include in the first place. This approach is based on the notion that in business messaging, the villains may just be your best friends. The "villains" are simply any problems that cause pain, discomfort, or extra expense for customers, who are in effect the "victims." As for the "heroes," they are best illustrated by the supermarket going beyond expectations. Who in business wouldn't want to emulate that company?

If your products and services offer real solutions to customers' predicaments, there is nothing more powerful than communicating that message and making sure your potential customers remember it.


  • Provides a blueprint for constructing a story that will connect narrator and listener through the scientifically proven effect of neural coupling
  • Emphasizes the importance of personal authenticity in effective storytelling
  • Provides abundant tips on emotional branding, writing, rhetoric, vocalization, pacing, graphics, body language, breathing, and above all, creating drama
  • Applies to a broad array of applications and settings, such as job interviews, ad campaigns, and professional presentations
Author Info

Greg Stone is a highly sought after media strategist who began his career as a print and broadcast journalist. His professional honors include three Emmy nominations. He founded Stone Communications in 1989 and has since conducted media and presentation skills workshops for a broad range of clients, including Fidelity, Harvard Business School, IBM, Massachusetts General Hospital, Timberland, and the World Wide Web Consortium. He studied French, Italian, and German as an undergraduate, earning an AB with honors from Harvard University, followed by two master's degrees from Columbia University in journalism and business. He is author of Artful Business: 50 Lessons from Creative Geniuses.



"This book is an invaluable tool for anyone who is trying to tell a more compelling business story. Based on his experiences as a reporter and consultant, Stone provides a clever blueprint to help you describe your products or services with eloquent impact."—Francesca Gino, Professor at Harvard Business School and author of Rebel Talent: Why It Pays to Break the Rules at Work and in Life

"Greg Stone masterfully explains why persuasive storytelling is essential for today's business leaders. He offers readers powerful tools, techniques, and frameworks to become better storytellers and better leaders at their organizations."—Justin Drake, Senior Manager, Public Relations, Dunkin' Brands

"This is such an accessible, beautifully written book offering new, creative ways for organizations to ensure brighter, happier futures for themselves. Greg's use of storytelling, performance, and characters as sense-making techniques is playful while at the same time highly impactful. The book is an absolute pleasure to read and one which will influence my approach to teaching leadership in the future."—Jenny Knight, Senior Lecturer, University of Brighton Business School, United Kingdom

"Greg Stone articulates the elements of memorable, compelling, and emotional narratives about people, products, causes, companies, and services. He interweaves inspiring quotes, relevant anecdotes, keen observations, and his own experiences as producer, media trainer, business entrepreneur, communication specialist, and one of the smartest guys in the land. This is an important and highly readable book for those of us seeking to craft and improve our stories, to grab interest and attention, and to change opinions and behavior."—John Brodeur, Chairman, Brodeur Partners

"Communicating is the most important thing leaders do. Communicating well is the most important thing successful leaders do. Greg Stone's Branding with Powerful Stories ranges from Greek philosophy to Hollywood blockbusters to provide an invaluable guide on how to convey your message powerfully, memorably, and reliably. If you're a leader or you want to be one, Branding with Powerful Stories belongs on your bookshelf."—Gautam Mukunda, Research Fellow, Center for Public Leadership, Harvard Kennedy School and author of Indispensable: When Leaders Really Matter

"Greg Stone is the go-to resource for all who want to hone their presentation skills and public speaking acumen—whether you are giving a keynote talk for thousands or an update at your book club or leading a conversation at a dinner party. Stone is a master craftsman of storytelling with a successful track record of transforming novices into confident presenters. His book offers both a practical roadmap and an entertaining narrative that will enlighten, entertain, and change the way you talk. Branding with Powerful Stories is a standout, radiating sound advice and commonsense approaches that will make a difference in your life."—Gina Vild, Coauthor, The Two Most Important Days: How to Find Your Purpose—and Live a Happier, Healthier Life

Greg Stone understands that the most potent language is the language of story. In this trenchant work, he draws on a wealth of sources—from Bezos to Bogart to Lear to Degas—to construct a compelling guide to the storytelling arts. A must-read for anyone who seeks to engage, inspire, and persuade."—Francis Flaherty, Former columnist and editor, New York Times, and author of The Elements of Story: Field Notes on Nonfiction Writing

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