Story Engine: Storytelling Specialists

Story Engine helps underestimated and misunderstood places build a central narrative, a master story, and to bring it to life with a coherent and consistent strategy that involves citizens as much as governments.

Business location: Based in Edmonton, Canada.

Which topics linked to the branding and reputation of places are you most passionate about at Story Engine?

Cities and states with image and reputation challenges often lack the confidence of a central direction. The enemy is randomness, which is both expensive and ineffective. We prefer to work with cities and states that cannot be all things to all people (not that New York and Paris are calling).

We like to bring city-building, placemaking, economic development, government policy, tourism, investment attraction, education, and the arts together with a master story, built by citizens. The first audience is internal. The final phase is external marketing and communication.

Who is leading Story Engine?

Todd Babiak and Shawn Ohler have worked with people in Canada, the US, Europe, Australia, and Mexico to use narrative as the foundation for strategy.

Advice you’d like to share?

Curiosity and empathy are at the core of what we do. We run individual interviews, to uncover the story of a place and the people who have chosen it. Our number one job is listening. Until we have the story, we try not to think about tactics. Wherever we work, we always partner with local agencies and experts.

Where can we learn more about your work?

You can find out more about us at We’ll soon launch

How to engage with Story Engine?

Send us an email: We’re soon launching an international partnership called Places are People, with other organizations and individuals who share our philosophy and process.