Storytelling and Sharing
Product shots and functional benefits are no longer the foundations of advertising. You can watch a video online without being overtly aware of brand presence until the final credits roll, or attend an event where product placement is substituted by brand inspired ambience. Storytelling has replaced selling.
The definition of ‘storytelling’ according to the National Association of Storytellers is that it is an “interactive art of using words and actions to reveal the elements and images of a story while encouraging the listener’s imagination.” It is not hard to see from this definition why storytelling is the vehicle of the Age of Now. Storytelling involves participation, language, images and action. It ignites the audience and encourages them to go on an emotional journey with the storyteller.
The resurgent interest in brand storytelling is largely due to emphasis on creating brand experiences and the changing role of brands and consumers:
- Brands want to be more than products. Whether they admit it or not, brands want to be in Lovemarks territory. They want the Respect and Love of people who will be Loyal Beyond Reason, Beyond Price, Beyond Recession.
- Brands want to create emotional connections. To get to the quadrant of High Respect and High Love, strong emotional connections need to be created through Mystery, Sensuality and Intimacy. The best way to convey these characteristics is through the construction of narratives. It enables people to create a more holistic understanding of brands in relation to the past, present and future.
- Brands want the viral power of word-of-mouth. Once people find a place for a brand in their own narrative, they will share it with others. Technology has increased the methods and speed with which we can pass on stories, but the foundations of a great story worth sharing remains. Do you want to see it again? Do you want your friends/family/the world to be exposed to those same emotions?
- People want meaningful experiences. The culture of online sharing through social networks has made brand stories priceless for both brand and audience. A moment that strikes at the heart of the consumer will be quickly posted online through text, tweets, photos and videos. A brand story will be catalogued next to other life moments, thereby strengthening the emotional connection between the two.
- People are increasingly self-reflective. With the line blurring between private and public, people are becoming more self-aware. What you post online can be viewed by friends and followers, and any of the millions of people who are perusing the Internet at the same time. Stories enable people to convey who they are in a myriad of ways and different formats. People can share their ‘likes’ or dreams in a song, campaign video, or photo. Brands that learn to be a part of that will have the chance to be a part of their audience’s life story.