Stories, Grommets and Epipheos

This is the latest in the series of cartoons by Hugh MacLeod as featured on his blog GapingVoid. While I totally agree with his point on how conversations change when the markets change, I want to add further to it or take the liberty of phrasing it in a slightly different way by saying “all evolutions in marketing are evolutions of stories, the narratives, or chronicles”.

KONY has been phenomenally viral. It is a story well told.

Charity Water tugs at your heart. It is a story well told.

Innocent makes you look at smoothie in a new light. It is a story well told.

Stories simplify, humanize and lend emotion to messages about products, services and causes and thereby make them unique and authentic for us. When a brand tells me its story, it plants its idea in my mind and thereby becomes more potent. When I know the story, I suddenly begin to care. That’s why more and more videos in Kickstarter are about a ‘story’, that’s why people go to ‘About Us’ page in most sites/blogs that they visit, that’s why you might find yourself intently reading the story of a restaurant as printed on the first page of its menu even before you get to the appetizers section, that’s why you might even relish and appreciate the coffee at your local coffee store. That’s why Facebook brand pages with a well designed timeline tend to come across as more interesting and humane narratives.

As a marketer I find this to be one of the most inspiring tenets of the practice. When I realize that it is all about story telling, things suddenly seem to take newer shapes of significance and bring newer things into perspective. It then begets questions from a consumer standpoint and demands for a spiel that a consumer can care about.  That I can relate and relate to as I share it with my friends. Branding as Story telling isn’t to be confused with some smartly concocted campaign ideas or executions. It is much more than that and encompasses all the elements of the mix and binds them to a unique, authentic core.

I am definitely not an expert at this but there are tons of resources available that offer help on the science and art behind branding as story telling. That said, let me highlight 3 interesting trends that are panning out in the realm of story telling in various realms.

1. Luxury brands are showing greater proclivity to adopt story telling strategies: Some examples: Vitra – the maker of master piece furniture is turning to story telling – read the story here. Read an account of Lady Dior Saga in this post on Luxury Story Telling.  And finally, the Chanel No5 film – need I say more!

2. Story telling at a personal branding level: For starters, I could argue that most brands in high involvement categories that you buy today, you do so with a conscious, painstaking thought and consideration on what story it could tell of you. As an other example read a trend briefing here regarding the shift from brands telling a story to brands helping consumers tell ‘status-yielding’ stories about themselves to other consumers.

3. Content consumption as story telling: Visual story telling is fast becoming a new standard in content curation and consumption. ‘Infographics’ are redefining this field rapidly. In fact it is said that over the past 2 years, infographic search volumes have increased by over 800%. There is even a site full of ‘visual summaries’ of this year’s SxSW event!

Obviously, story telling is no more about just making films, writing screenplays or devising plots. It is much much than that and the following 3 examples are a testimony to it:

Daily Grommet: This innovative site uses the art of story telling to sell a product a day. A new product is featured every day in a video with a story and an account on why this product has made the cut on this carefully curated video blog.

Epipheo: There is this ‘story telling studio’ that helps people/companies/brands tell stories about their new ideas, products or even technologies with what they call as ‘epipheos’. I would strongly urge you to see its video on Siri here and you would know why Epiheo has clients like Google, Facebook, etc.

And finally there is Get Storied that is all about teaching entrepreneurs how to tell their story. Never before was story telling so critical a part of pitching as business plans, revenue models and risk mitigation strategies had been for VCs and investors by budding entrepreneurs. Story telling is THE thing in pitching now.

Now, that begets the question – what is your story?

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