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Storytelling or The Art to Tell Brand Stories

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We live in a new attention economy, where time, as never before, is gold and information saturation has become highly intense. Communications should be aimed towards the personal, emotional and …

We live in a new attention economy, where time, as never before, is gold and information saturation has become highly intense. Communications should be aimed towards the personal, emotional and relational aspects. How? Storytelling –either commercial, personal, business or territorial. It gives credibility to the brand and reinforces its social aspect.
The current crisis generates brand scepticism, trust lack and reputation loss, on the contrary, storytelling contributes to credibility generation –since personal aspects are a major trust source. Storytelling contributes to optimism, –since it develops the more ludic aspect in humans– and offers a context that makes sense, organizes dispersed information and overcomes audience fragmentation.
This document was prepared by Corporate Excellence – Centre for Reputation Leadership and contains references, among other sources, to the work of Antonio Nuñez, communications consultant, “Storytelling en una semana” and the statements made by Teresa Perales, Paralympic winner swimmer, during the “I Jornadas de Innovación y Comunicación: Arriesgar y Perseverar” organized by the Communications and Brand Innovation Laboratory at the BBVA, in Madrid, 2012

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  • 1. Insights&Trends I36/2013 Communications Storytelling or The Art to Tell Brand Stories We live in a new attention economy, where time, as never before, is gold and information saturation has become highly intense. Communications should be aimed towards the personal, emotional and relational aspects. How? Storytelling –either commercial, personal, business or territorial. It gives credibility to the brand and reinforces its social aspect. The current crisis generates brand scepticism, trust lack and reputation loss, on the contrary, storytelling contributes to credibility generation –since personal aspects are a major trust source. Storytelling contributes to optimism, –since it develops the more ludic aspect in humans– and offers a context that makes sense, organizes dispersed information and overcomes audience fragmentation. Money, as an advertisement inversion and media buy, is no longer a way to get people’s time or attention. Nowadays, talent drives money and attention drives communications. Based on this, stories become a strong way of expressing human emotions and conflicts. Characteristics of a Good Story There are numerous keys for a story to become successful. However, a good story should mainly have an eminently convincing proposal. It should spread the brand core idea and achieve a link, an emotional connection with its stakeholders, as well as overcome the fragmentation and attention deficiencies in current communications. Stories -since ancient times and mythology- reflect archetypes, human thinking and emotional and rational conflict situations that have to be solved through overcoming conflicts. Often, a hero embodies values and abilities that help to overcome those conflicts. This hero has to make a journey, the hero journey, where the hero gets to know and recognize himself. The hero overcomes vicissitudes and proves, experiences that when projected are used as example and guidance by tribe members –the individual social reference group, today online social communities. This has a clear pedagogical goal, since it refers to universal truth, as psychoanalyst Carl G. Jung pointed referring archetypes case. Stories should gather that conflict, they have to be properly structured, following a logical event structure as well as a narrative. Stories should communicate strong feelings and deep emotions, specific details and above all, universal truth. Besides, they should have a vital proposal, as well as brands. This document was prepared by Corporate Excellence – Centre for Reputation Leadership and contains references, among other sources, to the work of Antonio Nuñez, communications consultant, “Storytelling en una semana” and the statements made by Teresa Perales, Paralympic winner swimmer, during the “I Jornadas de Innovación y Comunicación: Arriesgar y Perseverar” organized by the Communications and Brand Innovation Laboratory at the BBVA, in Madrid, 2012
  • 2. We can point 4 different stages in which stories are divided, grouped in three different classical action times as we see in novel, or opera (opening, crux, end): 5. 1. 2. 3. 4. Storytelling or The Art to Tell Brand Stories Storytelling according to media Opening scene. Successive crisis, conflicts. Climax or crux, conflicts start to solve. Conclusion, final solutions. Apart from the events sequence, there are other keys for a story to be good; Conflicts (leaded to collective psyche, trying to put oneself in someone’s else place,) emotions (connecting and linking people,) feelings (keeping in mind every sense,) truth (a good story never tells lies since fiction has big truths itself,) and sense (it gives vision and helps to solve problems). Storytelling Advantages Storytelling has itself some important advantages regarding communications. They can be summarized in 5 different areas: “Brands need to generate and connect ideas, values, stories and content, getting companies closer to people” 1. 2. 3. 4. Remembrance: it has a mnemonic aspect, a narrative map that contributes to remember the story and the automatic memorization. Enjoyment: it has a ludic aspect, it helps people to get fun and contributes to their positive perceptions. Context: the story is put within a context, it contributes to the organization and meaning of dispersed information. Connection: it connects people from different backgrounds around a group, tribe or community in which they get to know each other and recognize each other. They share values. Implication: each member of the group has a role in the group, they do not get an imposed sense, but a proposed one helping every member to share it. Depending on the media type and communications channel in which the story is told, the storytelling can have different intensities, as well as bigger –or smaller- customization possibilities, having a different interactivity degree, added to the story structure. For example, television can add a very low personalization and interaction but a higher intensity. When it comes to digital terms, it happen exactly the contrary, adaptation and variation possibilities increase, but intensity decreases. On the other hand, games and apps are the ones with the highest interactivity degree –non personalizationbut a lower intensity. Storytelling. Written Storytelling. Digital Storytelling. Brand stories are different depending if the story is told, written or digital. In the first case, there is no previous written composition, time is less intense but the story can be easily evaluated, understood. Content is adaptable and customized according to the public and its reaction to the story. In the second case, there is a written composition, a previous structure, a thinking stage. The story focuses in technological tools, with a specific content created for the written format and a time much more intense that in the case of a told story. Graph 1: Classic Storytelling y = tension crises climax dénovement opening scene x = time beginniing middle end Source: Ismaels Corner, 2012. Insights 2
  • 3. Storytelling or The Art to Tell Brand Stories Graph 2: Storytelling Matrix Print publications High density Educational properties Linear TV and online films Customized Immersive Garning Mass produced Interactive Low density “The best content and stories should not be an artificial add, but something natural that perfectly matches with the brand; the main characters of this story should be the stakeholders” Casual Garning Source: Brand Stories, 2012. In the third case, the digital story has an extra element with regards to the above ones, that is, motivation. Digital stories enable a higher interactive actuation, facilitating the implementation of learnt things and above all, their spread and reach to the rest of the community. Teresa Perales Story The story of Teresa Perales, paralympic swimmer medallist, may be one of the best examples of storytelling applied to personal brand. She suffered a conflict when she lost her mobility affecting her sport career; she went through a crisis that she overcame after facing different stages of selfknowledge and personal growth. Perales’s story shows the fight for survival and search for abilities and potentialities. Till the moment she needed, those abilities and potentialities were not used or taken advantages of. The inner strength was hidden, but a shift in her attitude occurred. She accepted herself, had a behaviour modification, and overcame the crisis. The Spanish winner showed that main obstacles –in that particular journey of paralypic hero- were inner sabotage, that is, excuses for not even try and get other things in a different way; along with limiter belief and values, that stop ourselves and generate a negative thinking self-compassion cycle. Conclusion: Content Generation and Connection As in the case of branded content, brands need to generate and connect ideas, values, stories and content, getting companies closer to people and not the other way around (as previously pretended in traditional communications and conventional advertisement). The best content and stories should not be an artificial add, but something natural that perfectly matches with the brand; the main characters of this story should be the stakeholders –employees, clients…. Regarding brand communications, there has been a shift from the sectorial consensus (unite audiences around a sole truth, in a way of a real passive enjoyment that leads to proper passivity of consumers) to a sectorial conflict (reflecting faithfully the vital questions, casuistry of life, not only showing the problem but solving it.) Because a good story decrease attention paid to the world (other brands unconsciously) and increase attention paid to our life (the brand), tensions, and possible solutions increasing our engagement to reach that goal. Her story has every element to produce that needed remembrance and enjoyment. Her story contributes decisively to emotional audience implication and one can place himself into her position. Insights 3
  • 4. Leading by reputation ©2013, Corporate Excellence – Centre for Reputation Leadership A foundation established by major companies aiming to excel in the management of intangible assets and facilitate promotion of strong brands with a good reputation and a capacity to compete on the global markets. Our objective is to become the driving force, which would lead and consolidate professional reputation management as a strategic asset, fundamental for building value of companies around the world. Disclaimer This document is a property of Corporate Excellence – Centre for Reputation Leadership developed with an objective to share business knowledge about management of reputation, brand, communication and public affairs. Corporate Excellence – Centre for Reputation Leadership is the owner of all rights related to the intellectual property on images, texts, drawings or any other content or elements of this product. Corporate Excellence - Centre for Reputation Leadership is the holder of all necessary permissions for the use of the document and therefore any reproduction, distribution, publishing or modification of the document without its express permission is prohibited.