Story Matters

Posted on October 27, 2010

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Lately, it feels there’s been a resurgence of people in Adland talking about the importance of storytelling. We’re going back to basics, literally. I have no issues with this, I think this is great. What irritates me is people talking about it as if it’s groundbreaking stuff. It’s what it’s always been about, isn’t it? This is echoing the sentiment in Rob’s post from a couple of days ago. Ironically, I do think that the importance of storytelling may actually sound like groundbreaking thinking to a lot of brand managers and agency people, which is rather alarming. But it may help explain why so much of the advertising out there is so utterly bland and uninteresting.

Storytelling is the backbone of culture, any culture. It’s a necessity for people to feel a sense of belonging to any group or context, including brand. We simply need stories as human beings to create meaning. And great stories need great ideas. A really bad analogy (- I can’t think of a better one right now -) would be to think about an idea as a book cover; what holds the chapters that tell the story.

Now, I realize I run the risk of sounding like one of those people who annoy me when I say that storytelling is important.  But I don’t pretend there is anything new in what I’m saying here. All I’m saying is that a great story is as relevant as ever. I’ve posted on this topic a couple of years ago and you can read it here.

Whilst on the topic of storytelling, I thought I’d share this fairly recent RSA animation of Sir Ken Robinson’s story. It tells a great story. And because of how it’s told: the words, the pace, the timing, the analogies, the visualization, it is both persuasive and engaging. Not to mention how fundamentally important it is for all of us.

The best stories are the ones people want to share, the ones people want to hear over and over again, the ones people want to believe in. These are the stories that live on.

My sharing this clip is hopefully proof that Sir Ken’s story is one that will spread and live on.

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