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What's the purpose of storytelling

January 23 2018

We all know the power of storytelling.

We’ve all experienced the power of a great film or book and the deep emotional connection with characters that authentic storytelling builds.

But what does that mean for brands? The idea that brands have a story forces them to think about and attempt to express their purpose in a real and meaningful way. Real, authentic stories that bring the brand to life in the everyday lives of customers. Something they can believe in and get behind.  Which is essential with today’s ever more fickle consumer.

But of course we all know the power of storytelling in marketing.

There’s even been an attempt to apply the classic three-act story structure to the story that brands tell. In her book Donna Lichaw uses story theory to inform the creation of digital products and services. UX and coding types have used the user stories to build emotion into the often cold world of digital interaction.

There’s also a lot of hype.

As one client said to me recently “Enough with the purpose already! We get it. We’ve got one”. But in our experience it’s all too often interrogated no further than the ‘Brand Film’.

Box ticked. Purpose done.

We believe true meaning comes in how that purpose is brought to life in every interaction with the customer. In other words, it has to go beyond the brand film.

Which, rather neatly, brings me to our 4 key principles of storytelling:

  1. Brand stories are different to stories in film. There are TWO protagonists. The brand and its audience.  The story happens in the interaction between the two.
  2. Storytelling is a technique. A guide to a more human and empathetic conversation. It is not a deliverable.
  3. Brands also have more than one story running concurrently. There is big brand story that help shape why people should believe or care in what you have to say. There is the product story that defines why they should choose you. Then there is the experience story that gives them a reason to stay with you.
  4. Map your stories to the customer journey. Interrogate when and where your story makes sense.

Why do we have just 4 key principles?

Because 5 would be too neat and that’s just not believable.

True Story.