Storytelling vital

Brand strategist Brian Richards will give the region's digital industries tips in telling their stories to a wider audience at the Digital Industry Forum run by Soda Inc in Hamilton tomorrow. In this columnn Mr Richards shares how a coming shift from information to imaginative story telling will transform the digital industry.

Last updated 11:01 04/07/2011
Brian Richards is keynote speaker at the Digital Industry Forum.

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What's the future of business after the information age? It won't be the latest technology or the newest product, but the story behind the product that will provide the competitive edge.

If you have the best story you will win the most consumers by sparking their imagination that reflects how they see themselves and how they want to see you as a company. They are the most important raw materials of the 21st-century. Stories that will translate information for consumers into accessible, emotional terms.

In the age of product parity and shelves of categories, which simply confuse us, companies of the future will have to differentiate themselves from their competitors by creating stories about who they are and what they stand for. Stories that appeal to the heart of the consumer.

Some of the world's most successful organisations; Disney, Nike and Rolex have long recognised society's appetite for a good story. They have demonstrated the ability to satisfy that need by entertaining the consumer while providing information. These are the companies who will win significant rewards well into this century as the cost of brands goes down through increasing loyalty building exercises.

Cutting-edge companies are ushering storytellers into their businesses and listening attentively.  Closely connected to brand  disciplines,  stories should target our basic emotional needs. The need for adventure,  togetherness, to care and be cared for, to define ourselves, to feel safe and secure, to demonstrate our convictions.

The sun is setting on the information age in that companies can no longer simply focus on purely technical and rational thinking. We are entering a time where many future products will be judged for their emotional, non-materialistic values.

Increasingly the company is being viewed as a tribe, complete with rituals, myths, and stories all of its own. We are becoming reluctant to be  ''sold to'' preferring to  ''buy from'' people who we understand from our perspective.

Why do we crave stories? It's part of what it means to be human. We have always lived in the spiritual as well as a physical world. Stories help us to define who we are.

The real skill today lies in the realisation that you are creating the story of the actual product together with your customer, who becomes a co-storyteller. Harley Davidson owners provide their own content. They tell their stories to each other and to new owners. They also tell the company and its employees how they want the story to unfold about the brand they love.

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The new market opportunity for brands is all to do with stories which embody three things   togetherness, friendship and love.

- Waikato Times

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