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Extending Story with The Craftsman Agency: Q&A with CEO Gina Michnowicz

Jordan P. Kelley, Content Director, Brand Storytelling

The thing people love most about a story is the way it makes them feel. Anticipation and excitement build around the prospect of engaging with a great story. Today's technology and consumer behavior enable storytellers to build that anticipation in a myriad of ways. However, ample opportunity doesn't ensure ample success. A generation of savvy consumers easily repelled by an over-saturation of money-grab marketing has to be approached with finesse - the kind of finesse foundational to the work at companies like The Craftsman Agency. Utilizing bold storytelling that crosses physical and digital boundaries, work coming from The Craftsman Agency exemplifies the efficacy of story extension. Brand Storytelling caught up with CEO and Executive Creative Director Gina Michnowicz to learn more about the art and craft of story extension, especially when working to extend story with brands:

Tell us more about the origins of The Craftsman Agency.

The Craftsman Agency was born from the idea that marketing and advertising had shifted too far into performance marketing and data, losing sight of what matters. It should be all about experiences—about connecting at a human level and telling a story in a powerful way, a way that evokes emotion. We saw that immersive, bold storytelling and awe-inspiring craftsmanship were truly resonating with audiences, and we found that aligned with our strengths. It also aligns with what imaginative brands—our clients—want.

How do you define story extension?

Story extension is taking key messages and positioning from a brand story and then expanding on them, supporting them through different mediums and channels in a memorable way. When it involves the customer journey, it’s a bit like a “choose your own adventure” story because it’s based on where the customers are at that moment. It also doesn’t have to be from the brand’s perspective. Story extensions can also be from the POV of a customer or influencer, for example. We work closely with our clients to connect the dots as the story unfurls. Social extensions for experiential are key to garnering the most reach.

What does great experiential and social story extension look like to you?

For us, there are key experiences in a campaign or program. These experiences can vary from digital to in-person. A piece of content can be a central element too. When you’re consistently marketing with your customer in mind, your brand comes across so much stronger. It also sends the message that customers can count on your brand. This seems like table stakes, but many brands are inconsistent. This inconsistency can allow competitors to take market share over time.

Experiential is about creating a space for customers to engage with your brand in a meaningful way. The experience should reinforce the key messages with the specific target audience and be relevant to them. We aim to build something unique for each client that gives a payoff for the audience and entices them to share on social. As an example, we did this for Booz Allen Hamilton at SXSW a few years ago, where we had three activations that spotlighted the advanced technical capabilities of the firm, connected immediately with the attendees they wanted to reach, and were perfect to share on social: a custom T-shirt printing activation, a Beat Saber gamer’s den, and a recharge room.

The cross-pollination for the brand and customers lifts the experiential activation and reinforces the story. The user’s perspective is an important story extension because the customer’s voice is critical. It is critical to listen and continually evolve how you engage with your audience. Another way to extend stories and engage with a new audience is by leveraging influencers.

To maximize reach, we also recommend integrating marketing tactics. Strategies should consider all mediums and optimize social media engagement opportunities. The most effective integrated campaign strategies create a seamless storyline and user experience for the consumer.

What does the process of working with a brand on extending a story look like from concept to delivery?

Most of our clients are large global brands. Their stories are well established and need to be told in different ways. This is especially true when you’re targeting multiple segments.

At The Craftsman Agency, we see the client–agency relationship as a partnership. We’re idea generators. We’re marketing experts. We’re creative specialists. But we also understand that our clients know their brand and target audience. They know their company’s internal dynamics. And above all, they’re people—and we’re marketing to people. So if they’ve got feedback on an idea, we’re listening. True collaboration happens when you leave your ego at the door.

When we’re working with a client, our first step is to understand the existing story, the target personas, and objectives for extending the story. Once we have a good feel for the basics, we begin researching options. We always include online research, but we also prefer to speak with internal subject matter experts and customers when appropriate. This research blends into the ideation process. We believe in garnering agreement along the way. Our ideas are pulled together and reviewed with our client during a brainstorming session. These sessions help evolve our concepts. The story needs to be well defined before we move into visuals, where we make it all work together perfectly.

What typically are a brand’s goals when they come to work with you?

It really is a combination of goals. Marketers are being asked to show return on investment, but the brands we work with care about awareness to direct response as well as developing creative storytelling experiences to drive engagement. We make sure our ideas deliver for their goals and provide magical moments for the audience along the way.

Can you share an example The Craftsman Agency has worked on recently?

We recently completed a really cool graphic novel for a cybersecurity vendor. Cybersecurity vendors tend to all sound the same and use similar content forms to engage with the audience. We came to our client with the idea to develop a graphic novel to stand out from the competition. It’s an effective way to highlight technical differentiators without sounding or looking like everyone else. Content like this can turn into an experiential story extension, which we both really love and find performs well.

We also just worked on a campaign for a movie studio where the lead actress was a clothing designer who created jaw-dropping couture. The audience and critics all gave the designs a huge round of applause. So the question was: How could we engage with influencers and press to bring this to life and encourage sharing on social? Our answer: Work with a chocolate artist to create a mailer with beautiful 12-inch chocolate dolls of two of the iconic costumes! We teamed up with the PR agency to secure influencers and press. Our client leveraged the chocolate dolls on their social platforms too, and the artist shared the behind-the-scenes videos, which the audience loved. It all worked wonderfully together and was successful in driving results.

What’s next for The Craftsman Agency? Where can potential partners connect with you?

We are coming off of a great year where we helped brands tell stories in unique and engaging ways, but The Craftsman Agency is always evolving and pushing the envelope. We’re already working on some exciting projects going into 2022 and can’t wait to share them.

Potential partners can connect with us on our website ( or via email at


About Gina Michnowicz

Gina is a hands-on, fully engaged, client-focused CEO. Gina’s work spans from marketing and sales within brands, to agencies, to management consulting. She has worked across B2B and B2C markets, driving success from concept to sales through integrated campaigns. Leveraging her diverse professional experience, Gina’s expertise in digital and social media has won engagements with clients like Cisco, Disney, Paramount, Tinkergarten, and Microsoft. For these and other brands, she has led teams from concept to delivery of immersive digital experiences, experiential installations, creative brand storytelling, and bespoke advertising campaigns as the Executive Creative Director.


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