Archive for the ‘Storytelling’ Category

☞ Apple co-founder Steve Jobs is generally acknowledged as a great storyteller. During his exile at Pixar Animation Studios, after he was banished from the Apple kingdom, he was undoubtedly involved more directly with storytelling. But his stint as a storyteller didn’t end there, as could be seen in his phenomenally successful second coming at Apple. What he did is now the subject of case studies in marketing textbooks, which may include the role that narrative plays in his salesmanship.

With CEO of Apple Inc. Steve Jobs.

With CEO of Apple Inc. Steve Jobs. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“That’s right, the late, great Steve Jobs wasn’t just a tech visionary. The temperamental former hippie was also a master raconteur who understood the power of a well-told story.

From his legendary product launches (in which he took us on winding journeys of anticipation, intrigue and revelation) to the Stanford commencement speech he gave in 2005, Jobs was a master of the storytelling art – and perhaps one of the best storytellers the corporate arena has ever known.

His ability to weave a narrative may not be the only reason Apple is the world’s most valuable company* (there are many ingredients to that particular cocktail of success), or why you can’t go five metres without seeing an iDevice in someone’s pocket and why, upon hearing news of his death, the President of the free world, Barack Obama, said Jobs “changed the way each of us see the world”: but it certainly helped.

Jobs might be a fine example of someone who uses storytelling techniques to increase brand equity (little known fact: telling stories is in his blood – Jobs’ biological sister is an acclaimed novelist), but there’s no reason your brand can’t utilise the same storytelling techniques and achieve the same results. Albeit most likely on a lesser scale – I’m not promising you’ll be the next Apple!”

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* Exxon Mobil has apparently regained its lead, but Apple is still in the top rank of valuable companies in the world.

☞ Storytelling is a major topic in discussions of content marketing. But not every kind of storytelling transmitted through any media will do the job. As this article by Jason Cormier usefully reminds us, much of the effective storytelling in content marketing is transmitted visually.

“As we compete in this context to draw attention for our brand and offerings, perhaps one element has remained constant above all others: the power of visual storytelling.

Why? Because no state-of-the art technology can substitute for state-of-the-heart storytelling. If a picture is worth a thousand words, the story behind it may be worth a million more. Pinterest and Instagram continue proving this out, and every competent marketer on Facebook can point to the power of imagery.

If you’re already producing video as part of your marketing, and your efforts are sophisticated enough to track resulting engagement and lead generation – watch what happens when your focus changes from just features and benefits to creatively telling a story. Hint: Higher levels of viewership, engagement, and sharing.”


A master digital storyteller:

“1. Understands the need for all humans to connect and bond.

2. Knows the importance of putting a face on a story (the human factor).

3. Shares many aspects of the brand, culture, employees, C-suite, investors, customers, and community.

4. Travels deep into the multiple layers of stories he or she is surrounded by and confidently uses available social channels to create cohesive and compelling content for internal and external communications.

5. Appreciates the opportunity to drive and influence mass numbers of people to bring them a transparent and balanced story — without the media.

6. Weaves images, video, audio, graphics, and other social tools to make stories pop and impact people.

7. Keeps his or her news radar and antennae up at all times knowing that there are stories, profiles, pictures, video clips, blog posts, and interviews just waiting to be developed and shared.”

from: “7 secrets of a master digital storyteller

☞ How much of the above apply to other types or approaches to storytelling? It is clear that most of the points above apply to digital storytelling (or the particular type of digital storytelling discussed in the article) and may not apply across the board. But still, an interesting formulation of what this particular type of digital storytelling entails and what is needed to make it effective.

✽ “While it is true that all sorts of “narratives” are used to promote everything from products to politicians, I believe that there are much deeper Narratives — think of them as “meta-narratives” — that we’ve been taught since childhood. I’ve referred to them as “the Narratives that guide our lives” — the stories through which we fundamentally interpret and explain our place in the universe and society, and which objectify our values and sense of what are right and wrong actions. I believe that a canny communicator can tap into these almost universal Narratives to create messages that will resonate with millions.”

✽ “For writers of fiction, [narratives] are indispensable. Christopher Vogler, in The Writer’s Journey, explains how he utilizes Campbell’s theory of “the hero’s journey” in his work as a Hollywood “script doctor.” Vogler takes apart the plots of some of the most popular films of all time, showing how they fit a transcultural, ubiquitous “heroic quest” pattern — and he then shows how a writer of fiction can employ that same basic pattern to make his own work better resonate with readers.

All of which underscores Friedlander’s point about our being “Homo narrans.” Storytelling is truly fundamental to what we humans are: not just how we communicate, but more basically, how we interpret and understand the world and our places in it.”

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☞ This is another article on how narrative can be constructively used for coming to terms with incomprehensible acts of extreme violence, such as the Newtown massacre.

The power of storytelling is exactly this: to bridge the gaps where everything else has crumbled.”—Paulo Coelho

“On Friday, December 14, 2012, a lone gunman entered an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut and killed 26 people, including 20 children ages six to seven. These deaths, coming in the same year as mass shootings in a movie theater, a mall, and a house of worship—and interspersed with violent acts every day on our streets—created a shock wave of sorrow and disbelief throughout the U.S. and the world. With the loss of children who had birthdays and graduations and their entire lives to look forward to, we asked whether this time would finally be the catalyst for action against gun violence, and address when the right to bear arms abridges the right to live and prosper. There were calls for and attacks against gun control, access to mental health care, security in schools, video games, media attention to killers, perspectives on race, and the glorification of violence.

But what we didn’t ask is how we proactively design a world that allows us all the chance to live in safety, and supports a shared goal of opportunity and care for all.

We keep searching for point solutions. We weigh one factor against another in the hopes one solved factor will solve the whole. But societal issues are complex and systemic and intertwine with each other. Answers can never be either/or.

We need to start designing our culture such that holistic sets of solutions, policies, and customs take hold, and hold us to a new, 21st century (and beyond) social contract between the individual and the collective.

How do we do this? One essential way is through story: The only way to truly comprehend the human costs of policy frameworks and cultural constructs is to listen to and exchange stories. The humanitarian and emotional perspectives are often more persuasive than only the rational ones when we are creating livable societies. To build a culture of possibility, we have to build both a movement and an ethical framework grounded in multiple narrative from multiple voices, and fostered by co-creation networks that act for the good of the collective and the protection of the individual.”

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