Yes, you…the one reading this. Come closer. I’d like to let you in on a little secret. Story Matters. And telling stories helps create memorable content and drive brand awareness. Okay…so maybe it’s not that big of a secret…but it’s worth repeating. “Story” has become one of the most important communication elements in business today. So much so, that the word “storytelling” for a creative director like myself has almost become an “eye roll” cliché. But just because something is cliché, doesn’t mean it’s not true. And now that grabbing and holding audience attention continues to be our fastest growing commodity, a good story is more important than ever. But what makes a good story? And what stories should we be telling? Let me tell you more about it.
Let’s start by outlining what a good story does. Stories help us understand people, places and processes. They help you connect with your audience. Makes sense, right? The hard part, or at least the part many people struggle with, is communicating this idea in a way that captivates and resonates. The world’s largest brands are successful because the audience identifies with their story. They understand what their audience needs from them – not what they need from their audience. In other words, they tell stories that stick. And doing this effectively starts with telling the right story.
According to Kindra Hall, author of Stories that Stick: How Storytelling Can Captivate Customers, Influence Audiences, and Transform Your Business, telling stories is “one of the most powerful means we have to influence, teach and inspire. An organization’s stories, and the stories its leaders tell, help solidify relationships.” And her book outlines 4 unique stories all businesses should be telling:
- the Value Story, to convince customers they need what you provide;
- the Founder Story, to persuade investors and customers your organization is worth the investment;
- the Purpose Story, to align and inspire your employees and internal customers; and
- the Customer Story, to allow those who use your product or service to share their authentic experiences with others.
So, if all businesses have these stories at their disposal, the question is – what separates a story worth remembering from the forgettable rest?
It’s not just about telling an effective story, it’s about telling the right story in a way that captivates and creates value for our audience. In my experience, we often tell the right stories, but weigh them down with too much information, instead of organizing them around the 4 main components every story needs.
As outlined in her book, they are:
- Identifiable Characters
- Authentic Emotion
- A Significant Moment
- Specific Details
Now what good would this blog about storytelling be without actually telling a story?
“Once upon a time, a young man left his glasses on an airplane. He tried to buy new glasses, but found them very expensive. ‘Why is it so hard to buy stylish glasses without spending a fortune on them?’ he wondered. He returned to school and told his friends. ‘We should start a company that sells amazing glasses for prices that aren’t insane,’ said one. ‘We should make shopping for glasses fun,’ said the other. ‘We should distribute a pair of glasses to someone in need for every pair sold,’ said a third. Eureka! Warby Parker was born.”
Now that’s a story. And it’s a Founder’s Story, #2 on Kindra Hall’s list of story types…not driven by information, but by her four story components: the company’s founding, what makes it unique and its mission. In 100 words or less, Warby Parker paints a picture that’s both relatable and easy to understand.
As we know – all good stories come to an end, and fortunately, so do blogs. But what have we learned? That we all have stories to tell and we can all be great storytellers. And that if we identify who our audience is, understand what they are looking for, and follow a few easy-to-remember tips, we can tell the right stories. Good stories that are effective, differentiate our brands and captivate our audiences. “Stories that Stick.”
So…what’s your story?