100 Brands, 7 Stories

According to author Chris Booker, every story falls into one of seven basic plots. From Quest, to Tragedy, to Overcoming the Monster, the UK’s biggest brands all have a story – and the potential to be bestsellers. Now in its fifth year, our Brand Storytelling Survey reveals the importance of a compelling narrative.

Voyage and Return

First up is well-loved crisp brand Walkers, with a tale of voyage and return. Starting off in our poll’s top five in 2013, the brand fell steeply, falling 25 places by 2016. However, last year Walkers made a dramatic comeback, and are now competing to reclaim top spot. In uncertain times, we seek comfort in the hands of brands we know and love.



Sadly, the next brand’s an out-and-out tragedy. After beating 93 other competitors to win 7th place in 2013’s survey, cereal giant Kellogg’s gradually sank to the bottom of the pile by 2017 – going from hero to zero in the space of four years. Like many FMCG brands, they’ve struggled to stay culturally relevant. A storyline that resonates with our increasingly health-conscious society is the way to turn things around.


Overcoming the Monster

Ryanair have slowly but surely defeated a monster, and it takes the shape of British Airways. After starting off 29 places below their rival, the budget airline made their killer move in 2016, overtaking BA. A modern-day David and Goliath. The question is whether their brand story proves strong enough to keep the upper hand.



Sometimes we just fancy a comedy – intentionally or not, McDonald’s fall into this genre. With scores that jump from top to bottom, and back again, customers clearly don’t know what to take seriously. A more singular vision would be useful in coming months, or the public might start laughing at them instead of with them.


Rags to Riches

Our next story is rags to riches, starring Co-op. Coming from humble beginnings in 2014’s survey, they’ve worked their way up the popularity ranks and achieved huge success. In an era of fake news, when consumers’ marketing radar is more sensitive than ever, authenticity cuts through the noise.


The Quest

Aldi have spent the last few years on a gruelling quest. Going back and forth in ratings several times searching for customer approval, they’ve overcome every obstacle and finally made it to a safe place unscathed. Have they reached their peak, or is there enough of a narrative to continue pushing onwards?



2017 marks the year of Fairy’s rebirth. After years of steady decline – hitting rock bottom in 2016 – the brand have emerged with a new lease of life. This sudden twist of fortune should be taken advantage of, with investment in new ideas that’ll change the story from traditional to progressive.


So now it’s all over, this year’s Storytelling Survey showed some brands to have happier endings than others. With eight months to re-write, we look forward to seeing our leading characters take on 2018.


Research and analysis by Alfie Kingsley-Smith