02 Oct Why once upon a time matters
It can’t be driven by design. Or color. Or shape. Or tone. It can only be driven by story. And that’s writing. Great, strong, sometimes funny, sometimes dramatic, sometimes belligerent writing. And it applies to all media. Movies and TV. Newspapers and magazines. Radio. Songs. Advertising and interactive engagement of people who want to know something. Who need to know something they can share. Something they and their friends – their colleagues – their challengers and enemies can embrace.
They want it. They need it. They crave it. And if you give it to them with strength enough, they’ll keep coming back to you for more of it.
It’s not about selling. It’s about telling.
We’ve said it for years over and over again, but it’s never really been exactly true.
Ask yourself how many times you’ve been in a marketing meeting and heard some variation on the phrase.
PEOPLE DON’T LIKE TO READ.
Then ask yourself what you really believe. Truly. What moves you? What makes you act? You’re just one of us like all of us.
PEOPLE DON’T LIKE TO READ.
UNTIL THEY DO.
THEY WANT TO READ
Just look to the transitions in media across the board today. It used to be that TV was the weaker medium. It was an undeniable rule in Hollywood that TV stars would never successfully make the transition to Movie Star.
Then George Clooney was a supporting character on a mediocre sitcom called “ER.”
Then he was a leading man on an hour-long drama called “ER.” Then ER was a hit.
Then he was the biggest star under the Hollywood sign.
And now, movie stars, producers, directors and writers can’t bang down enough doors for a chance to create even longer-form storytelling styles on cable TV. The whole business is turned on it’s head.
Then there’s the impending death of the newspaper business we’ve been hearing about without letup for what seems like a lifetime. Newspapers are dying. The model doesn’t hold water. They’re losing money left and right.
But, the news business has never been busier. Sure, the large conglomerates are having a tough time transitioning to a new business model, but there are dozens, if not hundreds of online publications – for profit and not so much – reporting news in every section of the old paper.
The news is still there. The stories are still being told. It’s merely in a new format. One that responds to new media.
Magazines have embraced it even more firmly with A BRAND NEW INTERACTIVE EXPERIENCE. They all have apps. Some of them don’t even print anymore. And there’s reams of content you can’t get to unless you subscribe online.
Social media. Is it really a revolution? Facebook may give you a few lines of attention. Twitter, only 140 characters, but a cornerstone of each of them is their capability of linking to deeper content, images and video content. Each of which enables each user – as an AUTHOR – to tell a more significant, meaningful, compelling and ultimately actionable story.
Do you have a brand? Are you a brand? Still think it’s all about your logo?
There is a trend in recent weeks of trying to tell this story about stories. And how brands need to embrace “true storytelling” and blah blah blah. Like most trends in pop culture – or movements in business culture – or desires to be loved masked as unrelenting addictions to being noticed – there is a kernel of truth in all the chafe of never-ending syllables.
People love ONCE UPON A TIME.
Most will be pointing to a “why brands need to embrace true storytelling” article or another. I’ll point to a statistics versus story item from the Times.
Because statistics aren’t the enemy of story. They are the bones of story. And we all ignore that fact at our own peril.
From the time we are old enough to ask for another bedtime story, we need to have more of it. We need to take it in like oxygen. Once upon a time is a beginning that feeds into a middle that resolves into an end. And for brands, the end is a clear, compelling, obvious call to action that cannot be ignored.
The movies called it an offer that can’t be refused. What it really is, simply, is a story that makes them feel home.
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