Storytelling is a part of our human nature.
Every day, we find ourselves recounting the events of our lives to our friends, family, coworkers—anyone who will lend an ear, really. But just because you share a story doesn’t mean your audience is automatically engaged, particularly if the story is about yourself.
“We remember and retain story about ourselves much more vividly than we remember stories about others, because we’ve experienced them,” write Gaston Legorburu and Darren McColl in Storyscaping: Stop Creating Ads, Start Creating Worlds.
According to the book’s authors, the time has come for brands to evolve their thinking about what’s changed in the consumer’s world—and how we’re using stories and storytelling in this participatory world.
Universal Stories, Personal Experience
In the past, brands played the central hero in their own story. The audience had to “buy into” the story since persuasion was the name of the game. But as the authors suggest, this form of storytelling won’t save your business. The power of narrative, an ever-changing media, and changing audiences are converging to provide an opportunity to reimagine the way the industry has been doing things.
Legorburu and McColl use the age-old hot stove example: when you were small and your mother warned you to never touch the hot stove, you inevitably did. “In that moment, you not only burned your skin but burned and branded an experience into your brain, which became a part of your story.” Your personal experience sears a deeper impression on you than hearing about it from somebody else. Experience is a powerful platform for learning and building knowledge.
Heroic Customers, Mentoring Brands
That’s what sets the Storyscaping approach apart from the power of story in business. With Storyscaping, you create a world of immersive experiences that inspire emotional and transactional connections, where the consumer becomes the hero of the brand story and the brand become the mentor.
In Storyscaping, the customer is the hero, the brand is the mentor, and the product or service is the gift that solves the consumer’s problems. The Consumer goes on a quest to satisfy his or her emotional desires and the Brand aligns itself to the hero’s desires through its Purpose.
TOMS’ mission, for example, is to help others in need. For every product purchased, TOMS donates a pair of shoes or eyeglasses to a person in need. The hero (customer) and the mentor (TOMS) connect on a values level, and the gift (shoes) empowers customers to live their values out through participation.
Storyscaping’s Step-by-Step Approach
Is your product or service the gift that helps your customers complete their quest? Storyscaping is broken down into a step-by-step, actionable strategy that any marketer can use to bring their brand’s story to life and clarify the value their product brings to consumers. The Organizing Idea guides and organizes the interactions between consumers and brands that transpire across all channels to build emotional connections and inspire behavior.
But storytelling and Organizing Ideas aren’t enough. The Experience Space plots out the potential online and offline channels and touchpoints. As Logorburu and McColl put it, “Create worlds that resonate with the highly-connected, digitally-enabled consumer of today. Create sensing and adaptive worlds that, in this ever-changing environment, can differentiate and cut across emotional, physical, and virtual experiences.”
When Organizing Ideas are applied to Experience Ideas, they create the final Storyscape: a flexible, holistic, and enveloping system of experience that brands use to make their stories real for customers.
Legorburo and McColl make the case that the powerful interaction between the Organizing Idea and an Experience Space is what will set brands apart going forward. How will you define your brand story—and what role will your audience play in it?
What story is your brand telling?
Download our free Brand Voice Worksheet to help identify the qualities you want your brand to reflect—and how you can use them to better engage consumers.
Editors note: This blog was originally published in March of 2017 and has been updated with fresh content.