The new storytelling

The new storytelling

In the past couple of years, we have witnessed an interesting shift: the shift from social media to social messaging.  Since 2015, the number of users of the four biggest messaging apps (Whatsapp, Messenger, WeChat and Viber) surpassed the four biggest social networks (Facebook, QQ, Instagram, and Twitter).  That evolution gives rise to entirely new ways of communicating brand stories.

Today, anybody with a smartphone can become a storyteller.  So the most important thing a brand can do to win a consumer’s mindspace is to create a good experience that the consumer wants to share with their network. This leads to a fundamental shift in branding from focusing on storytelling to also including storydoing and storymaking as new paths to brand communication.

Storydoing: your brand as an experience
The shift from storytelling to storydoing means that what a brand does, becomes more important for its story than what it says.  Organisations use storytelling to communicate their brand through PR, paid advertising and media coverage.  However, storydoing organisations communicate their stories through action.  Red Bull is an example of a brand that has successfully placed its brand story in the centre of everything it does.  Red Bull is associated with extreme sports and turned the narrative “Red Bull gives you wings” into action.  They create experiences that people can take part in as spectators.

Storymaking: the consumer creates the story
Apart from storydoing, storymaking can also add an extra dimension to storytelling – driven by the consumer trend of co-creation and prosumerism.  Storymaking essentially means that the brand increasingly aims to support the consumers in becoming ‘makers’, with brand owners taking a step back and ceasing to drive the conversation with the consumer and instead make room for the consumers to create their own stories.

Brand owners and marketing teams are moving away from trying to be the primary owner of their brand story, to allow customers a greater stake.  This will require a transformation of the basic marketing approach from focusing on the brand to focusing on the consumer.  It will require the marketing department to consider themselves “orchestrators” rather than “creators”.  Evolved brands such as Red Bull and GoPro are co-creating content with their audience, keeping the product itself secondary.

Storydoing and storymaking won’t necessarily replace storytelling as a form of marketing, but it is important that companies become aware that there are different ways to communicate a brand story.  The American entrepreneur and investor Marc Andreesen has become famous for saying that “A company without a story is a company without a strategy”.  So yes, storytelling is still very much alive.  But the storyteller has changed.  Storydoing and storymaking is the new storytelling.  

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