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How to Tell Better Stories Using the Before-After-Bridge (BAB) Technique

  • 6 min read

3 Weeks ago, I was in a fabric market to buy materials for my clothing brand. As I squeezed my way through the sweaty crowd of pedestrians in the narrow corridor leading to the fabric section, I had an unsettling feeling. Somebody was following me!


When I got to a less congested area, I glanced from the corner of my eye and saw the same person behind me. But this was a busy market, and anyone could go in any direction. So I dismissed it as a coincidence. 

I took a few twists and turns, but the trailing continued. At that point, I decided to confront my fears head-on.


I turned around and saw a disheveled figure in a dusty T-shirt, tangled hair, and bare feet. It was clear that the man was struggling with mental illness. 

To ease my fear, I decided to branch off to a nearby shop and hopefully shake off the strange man.

“I beg you, Nora, please don’t leave.” The voice was all too familiar. Unmistakable.

“Mr. Silas?” 

My eyes widened, my heart sank, and my jaw hung in surprise.

“I promise you, Nora, I’m not violent,” he said.

Silas (as I’ll call him to protect his identity), was a former neighbor. We had attended several neighborhood meetings together and he was a beloved classroom teacher.

With the last ounce of courage, I responded as calmly as possible. “Mr. Silas, how are you? We’d love to support you. What can we do to help you feel better?”

Silas shared his heartbreaking story of losses and how his depression led him to a life of drugs. This beloved teacher had transformed into a fearsome-looking man grappling with mental challenges caused by addiction.

With his consent, I relayed his story to some of his friends, who rallied to secure his admission to a rehabilitation facility.

This poignant story is a real-life illustration of a reverse Before-After-Bridge (BAB). Like the friends who came to his aid, I can’t wait to see his journey toward a positive BAB story.

What is the Before-After-Bridge (BAB) storytelling technique, and what steps can you take to create a compelling BAB?

How can you use BAB to sell your thought leadership, product, or social impact campaign?

BAB – The Beloved Formula

The Before-After-Bridge is a storytelling technique that shows a client’s current world where a problem exists. Next, it shows life after the problem is solved. 

There’s a gap between the before and after, and your product or service helps your audience cross the bridge. 

 Before: The initial state or problem. This is usually an ordinary or uninspiring situation.

After: Their transformed world after your product. Create a sense of contrast with the before.

Bridge: Your product that helped them go from pain to pleasure and the journey that led to the change.

To create a compelling BAB:

➡️ Understand your audience’s pains and how these challenges affect their lives 

➡️ Know the transformation they desire

➡️ Conclude your story with an appropriate call to action

 In this video, the Coca-Cola brand uses the BAB to show how an uninspired artist found his groove. 

As you watch, look out for the Before and After phases and the bridge.

Video Credit: Coca-Cola

Before: In this phase, the artist struggles to find creative inspiration in a conventional art museum. 

After: A Coca-Cola bottle, passed from one famous painting to another, finally lands in the hands of the artist.

He takes a sip and experiences a sudden burst of inspiration and energy.

Bridge: The Coca-Cola drink that gives inspiration.

Whether you are a social entrepreneur, a for-profit, or a not-for-profit…

using the BAB technique can help you make a profit, create an impact, or lead a transformation. 

You can use this storytelling technique in your content, speeches, or everyday interactions.

Here are two real-life examples of entrepreneurs using the BAB technique to communicate impact and transformation.

Example 1: The Story of the Solar Mamas of Senegal 

Before: “These ten women lived in the dark”. 

After: “But now they make light for everyone.”

Bridge: “For six months, DP World partnered with the NGO Barefoot College International to train, educate, and equip ten women from these villages to become solar Engineers”.

Example 2: TGlamz Pro Makeup Studio 

Video Credit: Temi Otihi

Before: Video of a tired-looking client

After: Video of a flawless, eye-popping model

Bridge: The Makeup Artist’s skills.

Like these entrepreneurs and change makers, you have a story to share. Your narrative can engage your audience and mobilize support for your cause.

So go ahead and tell your story because it’s the stories of change that truly inspire change. 

I’m cheering you on, 🙌🏽

– Nora

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