Good Storytelling is Good Marketing
Storytelling is something people everywhere appreciate and love. It’s a form of entertainment, as well as a medium to teach life lessons to everyone. It imparts cultural ideas and expectations, and spurs progressive action and critique of culture. Stories are things humans have made up and passed down over millennia to each other. Whether through oral tradition or written down, stories captivate and excite us, they charge the imagination and move us deeply if done well.
Is it no small wonder that the Epic of Gilgamesh is still a story we talk about today, one that existed an estimated 3000 years ago. There are countless other cuneiform tablets recovered from the ruins of Sumer and Ur, but the story of Gilgamesh has been preserved and widespread because it’s so entertaining, fantastical and well crafted. Good stories transcend time because they mean something to the people who love them.
Telling your story as a business is a craft if you’re trying to sell something to someone, whether it’s for a charitable cause if you’re a non-profit, or to sell coca cola, storytelling exists as the foundation of marketing with film, animation, and even parts of your branding and graphic design choices.
Good storytelling in a sense, is good marketing. This is because good, genuine, entertaining stories stick around and stick with us through the centuries.
You might be wondering, but marketing is different then writing a story, so what does that have to do with my brand, product, or business? The answer is that is has a lot to do with it. A sense of brand identity should relate to your businesses idea of itself, what it stands for, what it’s culture is and what it wants to show the world it’s about.
When I work with a client on a marketing product, whether it’s a 30 second animated spot, a website, or branding materials. The foundation of their business and what it’s about is what I always start with. Your brand and marketing is the story you tell the world about yourself. A strong sense of brand identity as a business puts people at ease because they clearly know who you as a business and what you stand for.
There are a few common elements in telling a good story that relate to building or re-branding a business:
Characters: Characters can be good, bad, but the best stories have characters that are often a mix. How does this relate to thinking about your brand? Think of your business as a protagonist trying to solve a problem and defeat the “bad guys” or problem you’re trying to solve with your services and skills. As a business you cannot solve all problems, you’re not superman. But you’re strengths are important to highlight, your niche is important to zero in on. You won’t be able to solve every problem, but focusing on your strengths of character in your business can help with defining or re-defining your story and brand.
Plot: If your business was the star hero of a story, what kind of story would it be? Think of your plot as what your business is about. What problems are you striving to solve? What do you stand for? What are you interested in? What drives you? Plot is driven by tension, adversity and problem solving. Business live and die trying to serve people and solve their problems.
Entertainment: Having a sense of fun is important, and you can have a fun, engaging brand without compromising professionalism. Fun doesn’t mean you won’t be taken seriously. It means if done correctly you’re appeal to the audience you want to serve better with a strong personal identity people enjoy and recognize. This is why entertainment is important to a brand’s identity. No one wants to watch a dull movie, so why would they want to stay on a website or watch a dull video about you and what you stand for?
In conclusion, having a sense of story about your business can give you a leg up, and can help you to really clarify what you do and do not stand for. Affective storytelling is good marketing, whether your selling an entertaining oral tradition, soda, creative services, or sandwiches. Storytelling gives you a sense of identity, character and entertainment value your customers will appreciate.