How to Tell Your Brand Story with Park Howell

July 27, 2015

park howell

“Our brains are wired to recognize story structure, to help us gain meaning. Our job as communicators is to bring meaning to everything we do.” Park Howell helps organizations, communications professionals, and executive MBA students unlock the secrets of storytelling to create more meaningful brand experiences. I couldn’t wait to chat with Park about the “Business of Story” on this week’s podcast.

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About Park Howell

Park Howell founded Park&Co, an award-winning brand and creative consultancy, in 1995 in Phoenix, AZ. The agency ignites the growth of purpose-driven people, products, companies and causes through the power of storytelling. Park was named Advertising Person of the Year in 2010 by the American Advertising Federation of Metro Phoenix. The following year, his agency was recognized among the Top 10 Impact Companies in Arizona by the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce.

In addition to running Park&Co, Park created and is teaching the communications curriculum for the new Executive Master’s for Sustainability Leadership program at Arizona State University. He turns sustainability executives into Chief Storytelling Officers to advance their social initiatives further, faster. The curriculum is based on the agency’s proven 10-step brand strategy and storytelling method called the Story Cycle. Park takes readers through the proprietary process in a book called, Story Built: How To Craft Spellbinding Brand Stories in 10 Easy Steps, which will be published this Fall. You can explore his insights about sustainable storytelling, and download a preview of his book, at He’s also the host of The Business of Story podcast.

He is a graduate of Washington State University, and for 30 years has combined his degrees in communications and music composition and theory to craft and tell compelling stories that sell. What drives Park is his insatiable curiosity about how persuasive stories help us nudge the world in any direction we choose.

Episode Highlights

Why David Cassidy is responsible for Park’s career in branding. At a young age, Howell’s life was transformed after seeing a musical starring Cassidy. From there, he began looking for ways to integrate creativity with commerce.

From Cassidy to Campbell. After reading Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey, Howell began to understand the universal patterns of story. “It’s been around since the beginning of time. When I overlaid these onto our client brand strategies I started seeing the patterns there too. These patterns of story work because they play to our subconscious.”

Turning data into drama. “Data is important to the story but it’s not the story.” Howell shared that data can be used for three things — to record an event that already happened, to monitor an event that is currently happening, or to predict an event that will happen. To be transformed into a story, data needs context and metaphor to achieve meaning.

How can you start to think like the author of your own brand story? Ask yourself these two questions Howell often begins client engagements with, “What’s the story you’re living right now? How do you want to change that story?”

The South Park School of Story? It’s all about the And/But/Therefore. Watch the video and listen to the podcast to hear Park give this story strategy some context for your brand.

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What storytelling resources should brand builders learn more about? Howell points listeners to Andrew Stanton’s TED talk (warning: there’s a NSFW story at the very beginning) as well as the book The Storytelling Animal.

What brand has made Park smile recently? Sonos. “It’s seamless. They are in-tune with their customers.”

To learn more about Park, follow him on Twitter. You can also find several useful story resources at The Business of Story website.

As We Wrap …

Before we go, I want to flip the microphone around to our listeners …
Recently our friend Javier von Westphalen gave us a shout on Twitter about our recent episode focused on employee engagement with Thom Wyatt. Thanks for listening Javier!

Did you hear something you liked on this episode or another? Do you have a question you’d like our guests to answer? Let me know on Twitter using the hashtag #OnBrandPodcast and you may just hear your thoughts here on the show.

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Until next week, I’ll see you on the Internet!

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is a strategist, speaker, educator, and author of Brand Now: How to Stand Out in a Crowded, Distracted World and Get Scrappy: Smarter Digital Marketing for Businesses Big and Small. He is the Chief Brand Strategist at Brand Driven Digital, an educator at the University of Iowa, and host of the On Brand podcast. More about Nick.