Brand storytelling is only for the courageous.

Written  by: Vibin K Venugopal
Designation: Co-founder & Director

Fortune favours the brave. This proverb has been repeated numerous times throughout our lives. Does this, however, extend to the world of #brands and brand storytelling? More than ever, indeed!

Personally, I do not think bravery in the world of brand storytelling equates to making provocative or controversial communication. Rather, I regard it as a conviction from the founders and marketers. In these times of fickle consumer minds and limited attention spans, it takes conviction in your brand and a steadfast approach to communicating your brand message.A creative agency might come up with ideas galore, but at the end of the day, the team at the helm of the brand is the one that needs to have the courage to take the leap of faith with them.

Courage can manifest itself in different ways. Whether it is through your brand’s products, processes, policies, or people. Additionally, all of this permeates your company culture and has a profound impact on that one crucial element—your brand storytelling.

There are many examples of brands who have perfectly understood this correlation, but not many have successfully translated it into a holistic and consistent brand story.


Much has already been written about Apple and Steve Jobs’ influence on the technology industry and the world at large. It is intriguing to see how this has endured, if not grown tremendously, over the years. Apple’s continued dedication to simplicity, functionality, and its design philosophy has ensured its relevance over time.

Steve Jobs was a master storyteller, and much of the credit for the brand’s bold storytelling direction belongs to him. This is an excellent illustration of how crafting a narrative around one’s core principles and constantly adapting it over time has developed into excellent brand storytelling.

Apple is recognised for breaking new ground in the fields of design and branding and charging ahead with innovative product concepts. Whether it is introducing cutting-edge new items (remember how awesome the iPods were when they were first introduced?) or understanding that a product has outlived its usefulness and switching to a version that current users want (cue iTunes and Apple Music). It takes a lot of skill to keep an eye on consumer demands, anticipate changes in those needs, and still be both aspirational and inspirational.

Avis: Everyone’s favourite underdog

Courage also comes in the form of humility. In this world of constant chest thumping and the battle to be numero uno, how does one take a brand’s not-so-great performance and turn that into an ace in storytelling?

Well, there is no better example than the work by the ad agency Doyle Dane Bernbach on Avis. If you are a marketing or advertising professional, it is very likely that at some point or another, you have come across this campaign.

To set the context, in the 1960s in the US, Hertz was the leading car rental company, with other competitors trailing far behind. But Avis used this as a marketing masterstroke and came up with the “We try harder®” campaign. It brilliantly turned this into a campaign that brought forth the brand’s humility, its determination to succeed, and its urge to try harder, mentioning how not being a market leader only urged it to work more on customer service. What better way to sum it up than with the lines, “When only no.2, you try harder. Or else.”

Would this campaign have been possible without the brand and the agency having the courage to take a leap of faith and use their disadvantages to their eventual advantage? Perhaps not. The campaign became the story of the brand, captivating everyone’s attention and their support for it. It was humility, marketing acumen, courage, and glorious copywriting, all in one package.

Ben & Jerry’s: Serving up Activism

Taking a stance also requires courage. But how often do you find brands making their brand mission part of their core philosophy? And what if it comes not from some socially driven enterprise but from an ice cream brand? Well, you will be even more surprised!

American ice cream brand Ben & Jerry’s is known not just for their ice creams but also for weaving social and political activism into their culture.

Their brand mission and values state: “We love making ice cream – but using our business to make the world a better place gives our work its meaning. In other words:  we use ice cream to change the world.” From supporting varied issues like Racial Justice (their support for Black Lives Matter has been notable), Rights and Dignity of Refugees and Climate Justice, the list is varied and extensive.

Linking global warming to ice cream might seem like a stretch, but they sum it up brilliantly with the line, “If it’s melted, it’s ruined.” Take their approach to climate change and work towards reducing their carbon footprint. Whether it is integrating practices into their own business procedures (through sustainable packaging, using renewable energy, etc.) or working with groups like the Climate Reality Project, their commitment is steadfast.

Ben and Jerry’s are a perfect example of courage, starting right at the top of the pyramid with the founders taking a stand and their values being imbibed by the entire organization.

Black Baza Coffee: Change starts at the grassroots level

Bravery also comes from recognising issues that face your industry and tackling them head-on. One of the best examples is the Indian specialty coffee brand, Black Baza. Founded by Dr. Arshiya Bose, the brand is fiercely working to preserve biodiversity in coffee plantations and empower small-scale coffee growers, producers, and their communities.

When a business is started and built around the principle of empowerment, it has a unique brand story from the onset. And with Black Baza working at the grassroots level, it is truly striving to bring about a change right from the first step of the business itself. Again, such action requires foresight and fortitude from the founders and the courage to embark on a seemingly difficult brand journey.


All these brands are great examples of courage in brand storytelling manifesting through various forms. We live in a society where anything can be quickly deemed offensive or objectionable to anyone, and brands are constantly walking a tightrope. To diligently work on your brand’s storytelling with conviction, refine it, and adapt it to changing times certainly requires a dose of courage from the founders and the marketers.

Let me know your views on the brands above or which other names deserve to be on this list. I would love to hear your thoughts!

Note: No copyright infringement is intended. The taglines, campaigns, and properties mentioned belong to the respective brands.


On a Date with Nature

Written  by: Vibin K Venugopal
Designation: Co-founder & Director

In 2014, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit the stunning hills of Kodaikanal. During my stay, I found myself in a picturesque pear farm nestled on the mountainside. The view from my cozy cottage was simply breathtaking, with clouds gently descending below, creating an enchanting misty atmosphere. It felt as if nature itself had meticulously crafted this scene just for me.

One day, as I lay among the lush landscape, I immersed myself in the soothing melodies of Schubert’s Serenade and Bach’s violin concerto. While gazing up at the sky, I happened to notice a tiny bee diligently collecting nectar from a bright yellow flower. I was captivated by its delicate movements and the sheer beauty of such a small creature. It gracefully moved from one flower to another, and in that moment, a smile spread across my face, and everything around me fell into a peaceful silence.

As the days passed, I found myself returning to that same spot day after day, engrossed in the beauty of nature. It struck me that even though I was in the same place, nature never repeated itself. Each day brought something new and different. It made me realize that nature is as spontaneous as life itself, never repeating what it did before.

When I came back from my trip, I shared my newfound idea with Abhilash. I proposed that we draw inspiration from nature in our work and help brands tell their stories by observing how nature behaves and aligning it with their purpose and values. And so, we began using biomimicry in brand storytelling, creating narratives that captured the essence and wisdom of the natural world to connect with audiences in a meaningful way.


Since then, Headless Hippies has built nearly 16 brand narratives inspired by nature. But how do nature-inspired stories help brands? For that, we first need to understand what biomimicry is.

It is the practise of looking to nature for inspiration when solving human problems and designing innovative solutions. By observing how plants, animals, and ecosystems have adapted and thrived over millions of years, designers can apply those principles to develop sustainable and efficient designs that benefit both humans and the environment. The term “biomimicry” was popularised by Janine Benyus, an American biologist and writer.

Biomimicry is mostly used in architecture, engineering, and product design. What we decided to use was to observe organisms and ecosystems around us and study their behaviour to learn how companies can tell their story to come closer to their customers. AFTER ALL, BRANDING IS ABOUT MAKING FRIENDS WITH PEOPLE. And at Headless Hippies, we help companies tell their stories through brand strategy and visual design so that brands can come closer to people every day.

How do nature-inspired stories help brands?

Easy to relate:
Biomimicry allows us to tap into the familiar and awe-inspiring aspects of nature. By drawing inspiration from the natural world, we create brand narratives that people can easily connect with. We weave stories that evoke emotions and tap into universal experiences, making it effortless for the audience to relate to and engage with the brand.

Easy for the brand to narrate:
Biomimicry provides a rich and abundant source of inspiration for brand storytelling. By aligning the brand’s narrative with the patterns, behaviours, and processes found in nature, we empower brands to tell their story with authenticity and clarity. Brands can seamlessly convey their purpose, values, and mission, creating a cohesive and impactful narrative that resonates with their audience.

Nourishing Schools Visual Identity - Inspired by Seeds and Transformation

Aligning brand and organisation values:
Nature operates within a set of fundamental principles and values. By aligning a brand’s values with those found in nature—such as sustainability, adaptability, collaboration, and resilience—we create a strong and meaningful connection between the brand and its audience. This alignment fosters trust, loyalty, and a sense of shared purpose, elevating the brand’s story to new heights.

Arts Education Conference - Inspired by Art and Symbols from around the world

Build a concrete visual identity inspired by nature:
Biomimicry offers a treasure trove of visual inspiration. From the intricate patterns of a leaf to the dynamic shapes of a flock of birds, we can infuse the brand’s visual identity with elements derived from nature. By integrating these organic and harmonious elements, we create a visual language that captivates and engages, while also conveying the brand’s values and personality.

Build visual consistency:
Just as nature maintains a consistent yet ever-evolving identity, we ensure that the brand’s visual identity remains cohesive and consistent across various touchpoints. By drawing from the patterns and systems found in nature, we establish a visual framework that unifies the brand’s design elements, ensuring a seamless and memorable brand experience for the audience.

Build a culture that solves problems like nature:
Nature is a master problem solver, constantly adapting and innovating. By instilling a culture of biomimicry within the organisation, we encourage a mindset of creativity, resilience, and learning from nature’s design solutions. This culture empowers the brand and its team to approach challenges with curiosity, to seek inspiration from nature, and to develop sustainable and effective solutions that align with the brand’s values and goals.

By learning from nature, brands and the team at Headless Hippies have found a partner that guides towards sustainable solutions, fosters a culture of innovation, and creates meaningful connections with their audience and within their organisation. It's a relationship built on mutual respect, admiration, and a shared commitment to building a better, more harmonious future.