Tell Me A (good) Story
In 2012, Andrew Stanton, of Pixar, gave a TED Talk called The clues to a great story. Companies try hard to get their brand story out into the world but many ignore the principles of great storytelling.
Here are some points that Andrew Stanton makes that brands should consider.
"Storytelling -- (Laughter) is joke telling. It's knowing your punchline, your ending, knowing that everything you're saying, from the first sentence to the last, is leading to a singular goal, and ideally confirming some truth that deepens our understandings of who we are as human beings."
When your brand tells a story, do you know the ending? Is your story leading the listener to something or are you just stringing together unrelated words and actions? Companies often rely on advertising campaigns to do the storytelling. But, there are many other factors that contribute to the brand story. Do these lead to the same, singular goal? For example, do your firm's employees tell the same story as your ad campaign? This isn't to say that the employees should be robotically repeating the same message. Instead, consider how your employees might serve as supporting characters in the story your company is trying to tell.
"Make me care -- please, emotionally, intellectually, aesthetically, just make me care. We all know what it's like to not care.You've gone through hundreds of TV channels, just switching channel after channel, and then suddenly you actually stop on one. It's already halfway over, but something's caught you and you're drawn in and you care. That's not by chance, that's by design."
Andrew Stanton recognizes that there is a lot of clutter to break through. He touches on this multiple times in his talk. Are you designing the story so that your listener will care? What is it about your story that makes it worthwhile for a listener? Companies are often too focused on saying what they want and not focused on why anyone would listen.
"It confirmed something I really had a hunch on, is that the audience actually wants to work for their meal. They just don't want to know that they're doing that. That's your job as a storyteller, is to hide the fact that you're making them work for their meal. We're born problem solvers.We're compelled to deduce and to deduct, because that's what we do in real life. It's this well-organized absence of information that draws us in."
Some companies get nervous when every detail of a message isn't stated explicitly. But brands don't have to give the consumer all the details. Let people make deductions, let them fill in parts of the story. This can be scary because it's possible that people will come to different conclusions or make assumptions that aren't consistent with what the brand wants. However, in the end, the conclusion is more meaningful when people feel they have discovered it on their own.
"So we're all learning all the time. And that's why change is fundamental in story. If things go static, stories die, because life is never static."
There's a difference between consistency and being static. Is your brand adapting and changing? Specifically, is your brand adapting and changing in step with your consumer? Don't be afraid to embrace the appropriate changes.