The Power of Storytelling OR: Regarding Brand Storytelling

In May and June of 2015 I was invited to teach at the MasterLab in Digital Economics & Entrepreneurship at Digital Accademia in Roncade, Italy.

Though full-day seminars are naturally a bit tough on the teachers’ and students’ power levels, I really enjoyed my stay there. The surroundings and buildings are amazingly beautiful, and everybody made me feel very welcome in spite of my lacking Italian language conversation skills.

The topic of my course was “The Power of Storytelling”, focussing on Brand Storytelling, or Corporate Storytelling, as it’s sometimes called. It’s a current buzz word, as is Content Marketing as well, but I myself like to question the meaning of it before falling to my knees, staring adoringly up at the next handsome trend.
What’s behind all the buzz? Why should I, as a brand representative, use storytelling as a tool to communicate? And what does that even mean?

In my opinion, much that is said and written about Brand Storytelling is just hot air. It’s supposedly “new” and “trendy”. But Brand Storytelling in itself is just another form of storytelling. …and storytelling? – That’s not new at all!

To me, Brand Storytelling is about understanding the power, art, and craft of storytelling. Very classic storytelling to start with. If you look at big commercials and campaigns, or stories about the birth of a company, often very classic storytelling structures are used to create an emotional impact – as Al Tompkins showed so very well in his analysis of the 2014 Budweiser Super Bowl commercial.

To learn about how to use Brand Storytelling to reach out to potential customers, one has to accept the role of a storyteller with all her responsibilities, and respect your customers as the audience they are: readers, binge-watchers, bed-time-story listeners, … all-in-all: storytelling connoisseurs in their own right – who want to be entertained, smitten, scared, sad, proud, excited, and amazed in all the right places.
So how can we tell good stories for brands? The same way we tell good stories for non-brands. And how can we learn to tell good stories in general? Start – and never stop – to learn about existing storytelling techniques, tropes, and how to tweak them for one’s purposes. (At least that’s what I to do whenever and whereever I can. The StoryMOOC and teaching/discussing stories with others e.g. are still major parts of that process for me.)
Plus: Take your audience seriously.

Funnily enough, the reason to start this post was to give you my answers to the 3 questions about Brand Storytelling I was asked on Day 2 of my Roncade teaching experience. (Late in the afternoon at 30 degrees+, so if I look tired, that’s why.) Take it as a mini add-on to the StoryMOOC regarding Brand Storytelling. ; )
There is still so much to say and share. But for now I stop here.

Screenshot: Interview at Digital Accademia

Screenshot: Interview at Digital Accademia

Isn’t this place really, really beautiful??? If I didn’t work there, I’d go there for holidays … hehe.)

(This post is in English as I was teaching and being interviewed in English as well.)