Storytelling is about more than talking at people; it’s about cultivating a community that becomes invested in the higher message of a brand. By developing a better understanding of storytelling, you will be able to start implementing a more effective business strategy. And there’s no better way to gain insight than to learn from the greats.
In the words of director and producer Tim Burton, “every story has a beginning, a middle and an end – not necessarily in that order.” His statement echoes true of the approach used by each brand dominating Aesop Agency’s annual “Brand Storytelling” poll. So focusing on the best of the selected crop, we look at what makes these firms wielders of the imagination.
(1) Apple – Telling a literal story
The tech firm is pretty persuasive and it comes down to one man: Steve Jobs. He was an amazing storyteller, an ability that enabled him to create excitement behind the brand. It’s why so many queued up to hear him unveil products, waiting for the moment he would utter that one famous line: “One more thing…”
It’s also been well-documented how he first introduced the Macintosh. When PowerPoint had yet to be created he took to the stage and quoted musician Bob Dylan to create an immediate lasting impression: “The loser now will be later to win, for the times they are a changin’.”
Some four years later he struck again, making a product launch sound like a call for war. “It is 1958. IBM passes up the chance to buy a fledgling company that has just invented a new technology,” he began. A few tension-driven paragraphs later, he revealed: “It is now 1984. It appears IBM wants it all. Apple is perceived to be the only hope to offer IBM a run for its money.”
But even without Jobs leading the storytelling charge, Apple is going from strength to strength, landing first spot in Aesop’s poll. That’s because despite being a giant, it sticks to one key message. Essentially, it doesn’t go out of its way to deliver flowery prose. Rather, it keeps coming back to its beginning story and builds on its cultural message – and it’s this simplicity of its brand story that we adore. After all, less is more.
(2) Amazon – Changing perception
There’s one thing Amazon truly excels at: putting the customer first. It’s been summed up by founder Jeff Bezos many times: “The most important single thing is to focus obsessively on the customer. Our goal is to be earth’s most customer-centric company.”
This particular sentence, author Simon Sinek has suggested, is a recipe for success – prosperous firms define a reason for existing (the “why”) before defining the “how” and “what” of the business model. This is in order to evoke sincerity. And according to James Rubec, content strategist for Cision, what sets Amazon apart is its ability to add value to existing perceptions. He said: “Since 1997, Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos has released a letter to shareholders which forecasts the next year’s innovations and reviews the past.
“It gives him a new opportunity to sell his investors on the value that Amazon provides. To accentuate his point, Bezos includes a copy of the 1997 shareholder letter at the end of the current year’s as a way to connect the past with the present. Or reminding why people invested in the first place.”
What’s more, Amazon is in the business of making promises: to improve an ancient process through innovation.
From choosing the right story to being incredibly personal, continue reading for tips from the BBC and Facebook.
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