The evolution of brand stories can be categorized in three stages.
Fiction Stage: Brands crafting fictitious stories to trigger emotions have become a very popular way to connect the brand to the consumer. The connection occurs because they aim to trigger an emotion which matches and reinforces the consumer’s world view. As a result of triggering emotions the brand story is felt, remembered and hopefully acted upon by the consumer.
One such successful story is Google’s Reunion Story which is based on a real chapter of India and Pakistan’s history when partition occurred in 1947, however the characters and their personal stories are fictional. This storytelling method worked beautifully in the past, but today ‘s consumer says, “ Well, great story but its not a true story and its like one of those Hollywood films based on a real incident but everything else is made up”.
Authenticity Stage : The antidote to the skepticism of consumers then became to base brand storytelling on actual events a fabulous example of which is Google’s Saroo Homeward Bound Story which is authentic to the T. You watch the story and say, “ Wow! Amazing… Google Maps really is helping the world.” So, we have made the shift from fiction to non fiction whilst still triggering emotions and earning the brand more credibility.
What we did here as a brand was to take the true story full of emotion and immediate connection, polish it up and make it available for the world to view and spread on digital platforms.
So, is that it? Are we done by converting fiction in to non fiction? Is that enough authenticity for today’s consumer?
Storylive Stage: No, I believe there is a third stage which is still developing and which I will call Storylive ( live, unstaged and unscripted ). This is not commonly done by businesses but we see it happening quite frequently around us in a small scale. At the beach we go to some evenings, people sell toy helicopters. When they fly past in the evening, their lights glittering and add that to an approachable, empathetic salesperson who can tell a story around them and its pretty difficult to drag my daughter ( and my husband) away from them. Compare that with simply leaving the product on the shelf/ website/ slideshow for the consumer to find and interpret. In a very basic form that is Storylive. Where the consumer is engaged by unscripted, live events that reinforce the value of a product or event and where consumers can respond and interact in real time, rather than a staged or scripted event. For it to be more than a simple product presentation, the ability to connect with your audience and be able to story tell and engage is essential. Increasingly, my keynotes, talks and workshops rely less on slides and more on getting people up on stage to demonstrate live, the skills and power of Storytelling in a totally unscripted way. When people see this, its a much stronger validation of the value of Storytelling than simply showing slides. New apps such as Google Hangouts On Air, Periscope and Meerkat through which events can be livestreamed and the audience can respond in real time may help to spread the message much further.
As consumers get increasingly cynical and jaded with what they see, this evolution is all about refining the authenticity of what you are presenting. Removing the spin and leaving the only two things that matter to your audience…..Authenticity and Connection.
For more on learning to present with Connection and Authenticity.
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