We live in a digital world where users have access to lots of information about a company’s service or a product all over the Internet's noisy landscape. But they still want more from a brand. They want to feel valued. They want the assurance that the brand understands them and how they live their lives, both personally and professionally. How then do you as a business cater to these ever-changing and escalating demands of a modern user? Enter: Visual storytelling.
Storytelling skills have been humanity’s greatest tools of all times. We have grown up listening to stories and how they relate to the world. Fables have inspired us and taught us some of the most important lessons in life. Why then can we not use these same storytelling skills in business?
The Art of Storytelling in Business
Most companies feel that stories only serve a sole purpose – entertainment. They are colourful, emotional and ‘touchy-feely’ which is considered to be ‘unprofessional’ in the business world. Most employees think stories should only be confined to books and big screens. And if we look at the Westerners, they appear to be mirroring the same psychology where a business should feel straight-to-the-point and utilitarian. Meetings and presentations are all about graphs, charts, facts, figures and other statistics. Or, HR handbooks are all about bulleted lists laying out the company culture expected from the employees. There is no personal touch anywhere.
In their pursuit to be 'professional', the companies are missing out on a very crucial component – narrative. Think of it like this – there are hundreds of competitors for any company in any given industrial vertical selling the same product or service as you. So, how do you stand out from the rest? You could have the best product compared to them, but the users may not even notice until 'after' they purchase it. If you grab the attention of the user by telling them your story, won't that resonate with them and get them curious about your product?
Business Storytelling Example
A good example that comes to mind is Airbnb. Have you ever wondered how did they suddenly become a household name in just a few months? That’s because they have been focusing on the joys of travelling and ‘having a home away from home’ no matter where you go. They did not focus so much on accommodations or how you can book online as on the experiences you can immerse yourself in being a traveler. The company’s vision and digital storytelling have made travelers across the world live the dream of 'belonging everywhere'. That’s what you call powerful storytelling – one that makes the users connect with you.
Take another example. Have you ever received an email from a charity or NGO directly asking you for funds after providing you with some numbers? The number of malnourished African children? The number of marine species in danger because of our bad waste disposal habits? No! They first build a narrative, a story around the numbers because that is how they reach out to you. That is how they emotionally motivate you to help out.
In an interview with the Harvard Business Review Screenwriting Guru Robert McKee said, “as a storyteller, you want to position the problems in the foreground and then show how you've overcome them. When you tell the story of your struggles against real antagonists, your audience sees you as an exciting, dynamic person. And I know that the storytelling method works because after I consulted with a dozen corporations whose principals told exciting stories to Wall Street, they all got their money."
Finding Your Brand’s Story
Not everyone considers themselves to be a storyteller. If it does not come naturally to you, how do you make it a part of your leadership? Maybe you feel like your brand does not have a strong story, but it does. The key is to go back and start from the beginning.
Consider answering these questions to get a kick start:
- How did you start your business?
- Why do you sell a product/service?
- What are you trying to achieve?
- How have your products helped users?
- How far have you come from Day 1?
Remember, this is a lot like your own BTS (Behind the Scenes) story where the users can look beyond the product and connect with how you resonate with them.
Effective storytelling is the secret ingredient for any successful business to set itself apart. If you want to inspire people to partner with you, invest in you, or buy from you storytelling is one of the most productive ways. It helps you humanize your brand by adding life to mere facts, data and figures and allow people to see the real you.
If you want us to help you build and share your story with the world, we at Illuminz can help you deliver the message using the right elements. We can give your story the justice it deserves and make the audience connect with your brand. Get in touch with us and we would be happy to discuss your project with you.