A Great Brand Has a Great Story. Vulnerability Is One Key Element.

When it comes to brand storytelling, vulnerability is quite the opposite of powerlessness. It is a mighty force that bursts open emotional awareness.

If story is fabric, vulnerability is the thread that glues the story elements together and unleashes genuine connection with our audiences.

As a storyteller, you must boldly grab this powerful incantation instrument and dive deep into the notion of being courageously real with telling your brand story, freeing yourself from the fixed mindset of having to hide your brand’s flaws and deficiencies and embracing those transformational moments that led up to where the brand may find itself today.

Book Excerpt – Learn how to engage consumers through emotive storytelling to humanize your brand and achieve business growth in Brand Storytelling at

Microsoft and Emotion

When Microsoft decided to share their digital transformation stories from an emotional angle, vulnerability became their best tool. I was assigned to do a story on operationalizing the cloud, featuring a veteran cloud engineer as the main character.

As he and I ventured deeper into delivering a genuine narrative, I could see the story painstakingly becoming more and more
vulnerable at its core and was glad our protagonist was not only up to the daunting task of being virtuously forthright about his personal experiences, but had proactively decided to lead the charge in telling these exposed tales.

“The learnings, pitfalls and compromises of operations in our expedition to the cloud” blog became an instant hit with our IT professional audience when it was finally published, as engineers trekking along their own digital transformation journey tuned into the message that big corporations like Microsoft did not necessarily enjoy smooth sailing on their way to cloud computing, and like any other company, big and small, young and old, the company experienced some bumps and bruises along the way.

Microsoft’s willingness to share the operational susceptibilities and lessons learned as it pioneered moving data from on-premises to the cloud so that others could learn from their mistakes was so well received that the story evolved into a six-part series and contributed to record-breaking visits to its website.


Vulnerability in storytelling works because it poignantly reminds us of our humanity. It encourages us to move away from the orator-to-audience point of view and begs us to meet the crowd eye to eye. It is precisely there where we have the best opportunity to empathize with one
another and, as you already know, empathy is the beginning of great storytelling.

Being Human

If any good for humankind came out of the tragic global pandemic, it is that it forcibly reminded us of the fragility of the human condition. None of us were exempt from being impacted by this calamity on one or many levels.

Neither were we worried about the cat walking past our computer screen during a virtual call or not showing up in our best “professional” outfit.
Emails now started with “I hope this email finds you well …”. But none of us were. And being vulnerable suddenly became a bit easier for all of us. My hope is that we leverage this window of opportunity to continue exploring openness as skillset. Just as we have empathy.

This extract is from Brand Storytelling by Miri Rodriguez ©2023 and is reproduced and adapted with permission from Kogan Page Ltd. Learn how to engage consumers through emotive storytelling to humanize your brand and achieve business growth in Brand Storytelling at

Get ZoneofGenius Weekly

Get Guaranteed and Consistent Publicity for Your Business – Find out more.

Entrepreneurs Conference and Awards with Seth Godin LIVE in New York City – 18 April. Sign Up.

Get Help for your business. Join our community.

ZoneofGenius Weekly

Weekly insights to help you grow your business and live a better life.

Search and get your answers