Creating your story

Everybody loves a good story. Your children love one at bed time (or more than one if they are anything like mine). Your friends love to share a good story when you meet them for a drink. Your work colleagues will whisper the latest gossip as you make a cuppa in the office kitchen. But how does good ‘storytelling’ help your business?

It’s pretty simple: A great story will cut through the jargon and corporate blandness that is prevalent today. Good stories compel people to change the way they feel, the way they think, they way they act and ultimately the way they engage with your brand.

The great thing about the ‘storytelling’ trend is you can be really creative with it. Every business has a good story behind it; from the blood, sweat and tears that went into setting it up, to the people behind it, to something unique about the product or service it is selling.

There might be an interesting story behind the way something is made, the ingredients or fabric being used or the provenance of a product. Social media has changed the way we shop; we are so much more engaged with the brands we buy into. We love hearing about the personalities behind the products we spend our money on. We want to go ‘behind the scenes’ and find out what really makes a brand tick.

Take a look at this campaign that fashion brand Uterque created with journalist Pandora Sykes for Valentine’s Day. Pandora, aside from being ridiculously gorgeous, bright and stylish, is a renowned book worm.

Uterque filmed her talking about different definitions of love taken from some of her favourite novels. It’s a short, sassy film that doesn’t mention the clothes once but establishes Uterque as a label worn by intelligent, strong, women. The campaign works because it sparks an emotion and gives you an insight into someone’s way  thinking. You can imagine having a similar conversation about love and literature with a friend.

Another lovely example of good storytelling content I noticed recently was this film by Welsh Water  in which two members of staff, who have worked together for 41 years, talk about some of the strange things they have found in the sewers. It sounds like a bizarre thing for a company to want to talk about, but for the curious amongst us (and who isn’t nosy these days?) it’s a fascinating ‘behind the scenes’ insight into what life is like for those who work in this most unglamorous of jobs.

The pair are endearing and really proud of what they do for a living. As a marketing exercise, it’s not going to drive a big increase in sales, but it might help customers in Wales be less annoyed with their water company the next time there is a leak. And it’s the kind of story you might share with your friends: I will never look at wet wipes in the same way again (they are clogging up our sewers and can take hundreds of years to biodegrade).

There are many more examples of great storytelling content out there. Hopefully this blog will have given you a taster of what others are doing and inspire you to think about what makes you different. Everyone has a great story to tell: you just have to figure out what it is and how to tell it.

This is the first of a three-part series of blogs I wrote for The Collective, a business networking group based in Chichester, as part of their ‘Tell Your Story’ campaign. 

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