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Insight

Storytelling in the digital age

Kids love stories. Adults do too, but in my experience it’s unusual for them to ask you to read one before bedtime. My daughters currently demand one story in particular, about a “hairy parrot”. Let’s call this story “inspired by” The Ugly Duckling.

 

The story tells the tale of a hairy parrot that feels left out because it’s, well, hairy, while all of his friends have normal plumes of feathers. His mother tells him that despite his hairiness, he’s as good and as beautiful as the other parrots. One day the parrot wakes up and he’s grown an amazing set of colourful feathers and they all live happily ever after.

It’s a (really) simple story, told by a trusted and authoritative voice (mine…), told through characters my kids understand (animals).

It’s actually a mish-mash of two different stories, told by two different people, over a few weeks, that’s gathered some consistency over time. Every day a new bit of detail is added about the colour of the parrot’s beak, or about the conversation with his mother, or the bird’s ‘squawk’ will change; but the thrust of the story stays the same.

The same is true for brand storytelling.

For brands, it’s about communicating a clear message in a simple way that catches attention, and evokes an emotion in the audience. The delivery of that message can change, but the message – the story – must be consistent.

“Stories are 3D – they include the storyteller and the audience both in the experience and transport them together to a third place, a shared experience. In fact, there’s brain science to support this premise. When you experience a story, the neurons in your brain fire the same way they would if you were engaged in the story yourself. Stories not only spark attention, they inspire empathy.”
Katya Andersen

 

Storytelling has never been more important. Whether it’s the ability to create emotional connections, create meaning and define a brand purpose, or simply defeat declining receptivity to old-style advertising, brands are increasingly looking to storytelling.

The digital world offers hugely exciting opportunities for brands to create longer-term, immersive stories for consumers, that build organically, allow for audience personalisation and build strong, coherent online communities.

Join Factory Media’s Commercial Director Nick Bradley at AdWeek Europe on Wednesday 20th April, for a panel on Storytelling in The Digital Age, hosted by the Content Marketing Association.

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