Back in 2004, Christopher Booker took a series of concepts from Carl Jung’s archetypes, Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey, and Arthur Quiller’s conflicts and rendered them down to 7 core plot types. These plots are eternal and form the basic fabric of virtually all our stories.
"The logical question is, do these story archetypes translate well to the stories we tell in business? The answer is a resounding yes. In fact, the 7 basic plots are a great set of guidelines to understand whether you’re telling a coherent story at all."
Explaining how the timeless clash between the two sides remains among the most elemental forms of storytelling worldwide, a study published Tuesday by researchers at Oxford University has concluded that virtually all modern narratives are re-expressions of the classic Alien Vs. Predator conflict.
As digital expands into every facet of a consumer’s life, marketing strategy and brand storytelling must shift its focus to create content driven by consumer conversations and needs. So how do brands get there? How can a brand leverage the momentum of conversations consumers are already having?
My gripe is not with lovers of the truth but with truth herself. What succor, what consolation is there in truth, compared to a story? What good is truth at midnight, in the dark, when the wind is roaring like a bear in the chimney? What you need are the plump comforts of a story.
Today, however, a brand has evolved into something far more powerful than just a look. It is actually your identity and personality. Certainly a “look” is one component of an identity—just watch people walk down the street. You can identify the hipster, the fashion diva, the gym rat, simply by their “looks”.
But their crafted looks are only one part of their respective stories, just as your logo and company colors are only one part of your story.
I wanted to write about the importance of telling stories when creating campaigns and I wanted to write something with a little authority, so I looked for an Ogilvy quote because he said/wrote many memorable statements about the subject. In looking for a quote, I came across this page, but the quote that stood out for me was:
“I have a theory that the best ads come from personal experience. Some of the good ones I have done have really come out of the real experience of my life, and somehow this has come over as true and valid and persuasive”
I often get asked why a Harvard neuropsychiatrist spends so much time talking about emotions and the brain in front of media and marketing research experts. The answer is that we live in an increasingly competitive world, and relying on what consumers tell us is incomplete, and in many cases just plain inaccurate.
Brand managers must understand how consumers engage on an emotional level in order to accurately predict whether their advertising or any other media content will truly resonate.
The key to success with presentation—and storytelling in general—is to focus not on getting approval or a particular response from the audience, but on giving something meaningful to them. That is, it’s not about getting but about giving.
Voyage and Return is a difficult story framework to tell a customer’s story because your customer shouldn’t be returning home empty-handed after an experience with you. Conversely, Voyage and Return is framework you can use to tell their stories for dealing with a competitor. Your customer goes out to satiate their hunger, has to deal with bad food or poor service at a competitor, and returns home wiser, yet still hungry.
Previously, we looked at Christopher Booker’s 7 basic plots of how stories are told. Today, we’ll look at the second of these 7 from a content marketing perspective: Rags to Riches.
If you’ve seen Cinderella, Pretty Woman, or other similar archetype stories, you know how it goes. Poor hero faces incredible challenges, gains something, loses it, and gains it back after becoming a better person or overcoming a situation.
Stories work for business because we [the audience] identify with brands. We see ourselves living the lives in these brands’ stories. Therefore, we begin telling stories too. Stories like my New York #missadventure.
Brands need to become media companies.
I recently attended a storytelling seminar with screenwriter, Robert McKee and one of the points he made speaks to this. Companies need to understand that in order to create loyal brand advocates they have to become media companies.
In advertising marketers interrupt the story people want to see with brand promotions that pay for it. Yet, in social media marketers must create the content people want to see. Brands must interest the audience themselves by telling a good brand story. But what makes a good story?
To research the power of story my colleague Michael Coolsen and I analyzed two years of Super Bowl commercials - the one time people choose to watch advertisements for the enjoyment of the ads themselves. We wanted to know which ads were the most liked, the ones that drew interest with buzz and votes to finish in the top of the advertising ratings polls.
“We tell stories that are definitely not your norm. We do mini-documentaries … and think of them the way Dateline, 20/20, or 60 Minutes would. We try to find really fascinating stories, then tell them well … to evoke positive feelings about the company.”
This story-and-news approach helps cut through the fact that, as Burke admits, “EMC sells something that, quite frankly, is a little difficult for people to understand. Our job is to build an awareness of everything that ‘data storage’ really means.”
Creating good stories is how companies convince preoccupied, information-overloaded consumers there is something worth their time and interest. Whether a company’s stories engage, educate, or entertain, they encourage a consumer to pause, even if for a short time.
But here’s the key question: How do companies get started with storytelling? The answer: a five-step process that any company can embrace.
Story takes all that data and dramatizes or “storifies” it, so instead of making a list of facts, you tell a story that moves dynamically, positive, negative, and arouses great curiosity: How will this turn out?
It draws the audience and listeners into empathy with your core character – it hooks them intellectually and involves them emotionally so that when you reach the climax, the message at the climax moves them to act.
What I teach, Mark, at that seminar on March 19 is what I call the “Purpose Told Story.” It’s not fiction as entertainment. It’s using the story form to communicate a lot of information but dramatize and “storify” it so that at the end of the story, people are moved to take an action: To buy your product, to hire your service. That is the “Purpose Told Story.”
So story in business is very different than the story in Hollywood. It is designed to hook interest, to move people, emotionally involve them, and then trigger them to act. That last step is the most important of all.
It works because story is the natural form of thought.
Medical communication and goals for treatment focus on the disease or conditions but not the patient as a whole. At this larger level we are missing some points that might help improve both short-term and long-term ways people experience disease. I want to make the case for understanding both the patient journey at a medical level and understanding the patients life story or narrative as it relates to disease as an equal part of therapy planning.
Authentic stories help powerful brands make deep connections with customers. But that high-level principle creates real-world challenges for content marketers. What is a powerful story and how do you tell it? I’d like to share four tips on how to tell stories that make connections and get results.
Some brands are inherently sexy, like the Ford Mustang.
The name evokes an immediate feeling of caution-to-the-wind youth and speed. Even though it’s been around for ages, Ford does a pretty good job of keeping the Mustang image fresh and current. There’s a lot of material to work with: history, style, engineering, innovation (not to mention that it’s a sports car).
Sadly, we don’t all write content for Ford’s Mustang. Most brands are pretty darn boring. Marketers are called on to create compelling stories for things like toilet paper or tile grout and for companies that rent out heavy equipment or manufacture parts that go inside other products.
How do you work with that? And how do you convince an old-school CEO that the company’s story is worth telling?
Creating a great story means digging right into the heart of what makes a company or a product special. Here are some examples of brands big and small making it happen.
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