Storytelling: Creating an Experience
As a grad student studying intercultural communication, the theories and viewpoints we studied were mainly text-based. Written words in books and academic publications provided new lenses for us to see the world around us. We were encouraged to think critically, to question assumptions and to dig deeper in order to identify which individuals or groups were represented and benefited from certain infrastructures, histories and messages.
Stories come in different languages
As part of my graduate studies, I had the opportunity to travel to Brazil to produce a documentary film on an African-Brazilian art form called capoeira. Capoeira is a self-defense technique disguised as a dance, accompanied by music and singing, created by slaves who were taken from numerous African countries and sent to Brazil. These slaves spoke different languages and they could not read Portuguese. Plantation owners who saw capoeira being practiced thought the slaves were simply dancing, but capoeira was much more than that. From a very practical purpose, it was a way for slaves to practice fighting and was used by many to escape the plantations they were forced to work on. Capoeira also became a way for slaves to pass on stories to each other, using their bodies, music and oral traditions that have lasted hundreds of years.
Capoeira taught me that stories can empower, warn, educate and inform. They not only help us understand our own identities, but they also help us interpret the world around us and our place in it. Stories have the potential to bring people together for a common cause by tapping into our humanity. They can be leveraged to create communities and social movements.
In advertising, we work with clients who want to tell the stories of their brands, products or services with prospective customers.
In order to help our clients tell their stories, I get to work with an incredibly talented team of storytellers. Some members on our team tell stories through copy, some through data; others tell stories through images, and others through a well-thought-out social or digital experience.
My job on the account side is to facilitate the telling of our clients’ stories by bringing the storytellers of the agency together. We help communicate a client’s vision and set up our storytellers to leverage their talents and abilities in order to tell an impactful story — a story that resonates with prospects in such a way that impels them to make that purchase, enroll in that service and relate to that brand.
Ultimately, agencies and brands that are the best storytellers create memorable stories that stand out and resonate with consumers. The most successful stories and brands engage with consumers in such a way that the consumer identifies with the brand to the extent that they make it a part of their own story.