By Manuel Zellnig
18. February 2019

Once upon a time… no. This form of story may have helped us fall asleep as at a young age, but we do not want to make our potential customers fall asleep, but offer them a value to interact more actively with our brand content, our products or services.

Many people can not do anything with pure numbers. This may also be the reason why even with memory athletes a sequence of words is used and subsequently linked to stories. The words, combined with a story, help athletes effortlessly reproduce complex combinations of numbers and multiply numbers like Apple’s revenue with Microsoft’s bankroll in their head.

The basis of storytelling can be quite simple. The main character of the story is confronted with a problem, whereby the solution is transported to the viewer in a sequence of actions. The classic happy ending, as with Thai massage, comes at the end of the story. As a rule, the protagonist or protagonist is confronted with several challenges during the story. The solution to the problem is presented after an exciting dramaturgy in the form of a product, a service or the indispensable brand.

“We are all storytellers.
We all live in a network of stories.
There isn’t a stronger connection between people than storytelling.”

Jimmy Neil Smith, Director of the International Storytelling Center (http://thestorytelleragency.com/goodreads/50-best-quotes-for-storytelling)

From this it is clear that the facts usually speak for themselves but a story sells the content. And a story helps you connect with your brand.

Establish a relationship

I claim that each of us has a story to tell. In every life there are formative experiences that can be formed into a story with a good formulation, the technical equipment, an exciting sequence and appropriate music.

Everyone can tell good stories:

  • Write down your experiences and you have more stories to tell than you think
  • Index your story and take the key factors
  • Which types of content can make people laugh?
  • Which content can people associate positively with the story? 

And even if their own stories are not enough to make them exciting to a crowd. The story of a friend, a TV story or a fictitious sequence of events can also make people pay the necessary attention your content.

Establish a relationship to your product, service, or brand values. Either from an action or an action from your own past. Show how your own story has an impact on your brand, your products or your service. Set the emotional anchor so people can identify with your situation or build an emotional connection to the story.

“Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.”

Seth Godin, author, entrepreneur, marketer, and public speaker (http://thestorytelleragency.com/goodreads/50-best-quotes-for-storytelling)

This emotional connection can be strengthened above all by music and appealing image/video content. Three of the most well-known storytellers of the modern era are Sam Kold, Taylor Cut Films and Beautiful Destinations, which create a fascinating atmosphere with their moving images together with well selected background music. A good example for the presentation of a product is the video by Sam Kold for the DJI Inspire 2 Drone.

It shows how one can captivate viewers with a product presentation with small music insights and the appropriate image theme while presenting the product advantages.

First of all, what is a story?

The art of narration is one of the oldest forms of entertainment and knowledge transfer. In many old history books, the disclosure of information is based on narratives, which were then written down in words in order to keep them safe for posterity. In almost every culture various myths, legends or fairy tales can be found. In the Middle Ages, many of the public storytellers worked as poets and musicians, which built up the stories very poetic. However, often, the stories were also populated with various rhymes or told in a very extravagant form.

“Sometimes reality is too complex. Stories give it form.”

Jean Luc Godard, film writer, film critic, film director (http://thestorytelleragency.com/goodreads/50-best-quotes-for-storytelling)

The former CEO of the agency network Ketchum Petra Sammer even assigns the term of storytelling to four areas. On the one hand, in the general category of rhetoric (personal presentation), journalism (news or narrative journalism), storytelling in brand identity (corporate identity) or historical ambitions in narrative art (such as theater). In its original form, storytelling, according to her statements, comes from narrative art, since the concept of narration was already used in early theatrical forms.

The form of storytelling is very well illustrated in the following timeline:

Types of storytelling
The forms of storytelling
(http://storyatelier.org/die-geschichte-des-geschichtenerzaehlens/)

The sequence of events shows that from the beginning of the cave paintings 40,000 BC to the invention of the Internet in 1989, many developments took place, which made the mediation of stories in many ways easier.

A story can describe the past, act in the present or present the future. A quote from Gorden A. Craig points to Thucydides – who classifies a story as studying people in circumstances.

This is a good indication for the assumption that the most successful storytelling examples will work with human protagonists and provide higher reach as viewers can more easily identify with content or follow it more easily.

But how can digital storytelling now transport brand values?

A variant refers to the explanations of a story. Every story needs a reason and a hero or a leading actor. The story may also contain a conflict at the beginning to adequately represent the challenges a client faces. The product or service can be presented in sequence as a solution to the problem in the story. With the help of an emotional charge the attraction of the audience arises. Therefore, reasons should be found that result in certain values that can be represented in a story.

Good stories go viral and tell stories in their own way:

A good example of this is the above-mentioned Sam Kolder. As a popular Instagramer and Youtuber, he works with various brands over and over again, presenting their content and their products in a remarkable way with his stories. In cooperation with Chinese tourism, he starts the project with a task and allows the viewer to accompany the presentation of the content through various challenges. His individual cuts and harmonious color worlds in combination with an exciting story make a kind of short film about his journey, which one likes to follow.

The travel inspiration platform Beautiful Destinations goes even more into detail.

The presentation of Zedd’s career is accompanied by the linguistic narrative of the superstar. Through music accompaniment and staged sound effects, the viewer is guided through the story of the performer in a very melodic way. The harmonious images and video sequences result in a perfectly staged video story, which is even continued by Beautiful Destinations with an epic 2.

“The best brands are built on great stories.”

Ian Rowden Chief Marketing Officer, Virgin Group

The Instagramer me_and_mango is an interesting example of a Viennese storyteller named after a name combination with his parrot. The Viennese artist shows a perfect staging of his colorful life in his Instagram feed. He skilfully plays with patterns and colors, which makes each image expressive in itself, but even within the feed a unique composition. The presentation of content is done by a series of pictures where you are not becoming fed up but eagerly following the next content.

To present yet another great example of storytelling, Jordan by Taylor Cut Films has to be mentioned. He shows a very playful and dreamy world within his Instagram feed as well as in his YouTube videos. The extremely special editing style and presentation of its content lends the style of storytelling a proverbial dream setting with a highly emotional atmosphere. The staging is primarily based on the musical accompaniment of its contents. The soft voice inserts tell stories in a very haunting way that easily gives you goosebumps.

How to use storytelling on a website?

Red Bull and CITRIX show their technological partnership in the implementation of a storytelling website. The full screen images are integrated into the website as 3D elements, creating a very tangible and even dynamic atmosphere. The discreet sound elements on clicking to the next page open up a little insight for the feeling on a racetrack. The collaboration and its background are presented as visualized points with written information, which can be used to explain the contents of the website in a comprehensible way.

The New Mobile Workforce
The New Mobile Workforce
The New Mobile Workforce
The New Mobile Workforce

How does storytelling affect the brain?

People like to be guided by emotion and later base their actions on their own logic. Some psychological articles even go so far as to claim that over 90% of all human actions occur in the subconscious.

Biological aspects

Also, the structure of the human brain and the functioning of hormones confirm the benefits of skilful brand storytelling. The brain releases dopamine when it is aroused by emotional events/situations. The hormone helps us through its biological effect in the detailed memory and releases the focus, motivation and memory effect.

The described hormones OXYTOCIN and ENDORPHINE therefore have different effects on our brain. As a result, different hormones take effect in the respective type of storytelling. While oxytocin will be used for a sadder story, in return the endorphin hormone is a very positive factor.

Conceptual aspects

The emotional effects of the hormonal approach can be enhanced by targeted conceptual aspects. The emotion is mainly arising due to the used form and the applied medium of representation. The musical elements may e.g. in a video cause an essential influence on the mood of the viewer and thus amplify the perceived stimuli. The image presentation or video contents give the consumer a mood, which he processes and assesses in the brain. In order to establish a significant connection to the content in these phases, the exact analysis of the target group as well as the definition of the goals is important. The use of a storyboard or moodboard can help to plan the content and to anticipate the intended moods. Precise conceptual preparation can thus help to trigger the desired feelings and optimally align the use of resources with the goals of the campaign.

In summary, for content marketing, content and narrative strands of the story have to fit the brand and the business and need to be optimized for different platforms and use cases.

What are our recommendations to showcase skilful storytelling for your company?

For this, ask yourself 3 questions:

  1. Which type of content has made you aware of a topic and how was it packed? 
  2. What created the emotion and tension? 
  3. What catches you in a good story?

An important tip for media use is:

Text

Accompany your text with music and add a subtitle to a narration. But do not forget that a large number of your viewers have no sound at work, so you should be able to follow your video without music.

#Rule – Keep it simple and short

Images

High quality in the selection of images and different perspectives are definitely a must for an interesting story design.

Video

Again, the use of different perspectives, high-quality sound effects and a decent cut with color adjustments in the video sequences plays an important role. Pay particular attention to the export settings for social media networks, in order to provide the right format and quality for this type of media.

Additions: Whether graphic elements, illustrations or movement effects with places and people. The more your video is adapted to the interests of your target audience, the stronger the interaction will be.

Now take your time to present your story to the world.

“Authors do not choose a story to write, the story chooses us.”

Richard P. Denney, Author

Manuel Zellnig

Manuel Zellnig

CEO | Maze & Friends | mazenfriends.agency

Manuel Zellnig is managing director of a social media and event agency in Vienna. The focus is on connecting on & offline branded content of SMEs. As a longtime partner of PIXIT they support us in the field of social media and content marketing.

You want to know more or start a project? Then feel free to contact us.

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