The Future of StoryTelling is an invitation-only, two-day gathering of technology, media, and communications visionaries from around the world. The summit is designed to put participants in direct contact with the most vital ideas, people, and technologies that are shaping the way we tell stories.
There were three sessions in particular that gave me great inspiration for storytelling for brands and companies and I wanted to share a few key nuggets from each here:
Dave Nadelberg, founder of Mortified, taught a “story extractor” method for turning anecdotes into stories. He recommended starting with one aspect of the event and then filling in the rest of the framework. Mortified focuses on adults telling stories from their childhood, so the framework looks like this:
- “As a kid, I wanted nothing more than…” [THE GOAL]
- “Which mattered because…” [THE MOTIVATION]
- “Unfortunately…” [THE PROBLEM]
- “So I tried to overcome that by…” [THE FIX]
- “Which lead to…” [THE OUTCOME]
There are a few things I love about this approach. First, you don’t have to know the entire story when you get started. When writing a brand story, maybe you only have “the goal” to start with or “the fix”, but by walking through a step-by-step framework like this, you can flesh out a holistic and multi-dimensional brand story. Also, this approach separates out “goal” and “motivation”—translated into business speak, that’s “mission statement” (goal or objective works here too) and “brand purpose”. The motivation, or purpose, is the why behind your brand story—why you do what you do as an entrepreneur or a company—and no brand story is complete without it. Lastly, this framework is equally applicable for brand or customer stories (and don’t forget, the customer is always the hero of either kind of story!).
Beth Comstock, Vice Chair of GE, talked about growing a corporate brand and I took away three big lessons from her roundtable discussion.
- Every story should have multiple audiences and multiple objectives. When GE is looking for new stories to tell through media or events, they look for narratives that will appeal to more than one key stakeholder. For example, a single story might be expected to: grow the corporate brand, reach key customers, and help bring in top talent for recruiting.
- There are three “tiers” of brand/corporate storytelling. The first is the broadest and most emotion-driven: fall in love with us. Next, “engage with us”—this is the learning more phase and involves both the heart and the head. Finally, a “direct offer” which is more functional and much more specific/product focused than the previous two tiers.
- A holistic brand story has three critical elements: Attention, Relevance, and Call to Action. This is a classic marketing framework applied to story—it must capture the audience’s attention, it must speak to them in a relevant and meaningful way, and finally, it must drive activation (e.g. buy, sign up or apply) and provide a way to easily do so.
Frank Rose and Paul Woolmington, senior fellows at Columbia University, talked about “The Story World” that the most engaging brands and media properties build around their entire proposition. This Story World offers four levels of engagement to participants/audiences/customers:
- One-way: this is the most traditional approach for both brands and media and involves putting out a message via broadcast, print, etc. for consumption. These also reach the broadest audience.
- Two-way/interactive: here, brands communicate with their audience and also allow for responses. A common example would be social media interactions (e.g. customer comments & sharing, direct company responses, etc.).
- Participatory: Here, the audience is granted license to fully participate in the brand Story World in an online/virtual way and may involve things like: co-creation (e.g. “design-the-next” or “pick-the-winner” contests) or gaming.
- Experiential: this is the most immersive level of engagement, targets the narrowest and most dedicated audience, and happens in the real/off-line world. It allows customers/fans to engage with a brand or property as though they were actually a part of the Story World. Examples include “fan experiences” or scavenger hunts/geocaching.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little glimpse into the Future of StoryTelling and just maybe, found something that inspires you too.