Sunday, October 29, 2006

Tell me a story

My very eager mother just sat upon new paint.

Does the sentence above mean anything to you? To me, it was a way of remembering the nine planets according to size. That sentence was definitely more interesting, engaging and easier to remember than having being told that there were nine planets and they were..

The simple fact is that facts aren’t exciting. Facts don’t enchant, fascinate, entertain or captivate our imagination. Stories do.

Facts are shallow and exclusive. Stories on the other hand, add meaning and depth – they are inviting and take us on a journey. They are personal and powerful.

Stories help us connect and make sense of our world. Stories make us laugh and cry. They speak to our hearts. They move us. They make us feel. Facts don’t. And that is why people remember stories, not facts.

The truth is that our universe is made up of stories and we are all storytellers.

A good story is exactly what a brand craves. Stories are a powerful, compelling and persuasive means of communication.

Brands that we love, admire and respect are great storytellers. A favourite of mine is the brand Camper. You learn the Camper story with every pair of shoes. It's usually printed on an attached tag or in an accompanying brochure. The words or pictures may vary, but the message is clear: These shoes come from Majorca, a Spanish island in the Mediterranean. "Camper" means "peasant" in Catalan, and the shoes are inspired by farmer footwear and steeped in island tradition. Fluxa, who started Camper in 1975 realised that Camper had to be about a place and the history associated with it. I buy into this story, because it connects with me on an emotional level. Camper makes me feel as though I am learning a lesson about life rather than simply buying a pair of shoes.

With people being exposed to over 4000 messages a day, the need to engage meaningfully has never been more critical and the application of the principles of storytelling has never seemed so appealing.

Most importantly stories help humanise a brand and in the present climate, people like nothing better than to feel that they are interacting with a human and not a nameless, faceless, emotionless corporation.

Also, when people interact with your brand, they are providing an opportunity to share a story. It may be their experience with your product, or an interaction with the sales staff, or how a complaint was handled. A brand that’s a good storyteller will find a good brand or consumer story and share it with others.

If we want our brand to stand the test of time and competition, we need to stop thinking of ourselves as advertisers and start thinking of ourselves as storytellers.