And has it become just another corporate buzzword?
One of our core values at Vanilla Bear Films, is that ‘Stories Inspire’. Both Aaron and I love telling stories, whether through films, pictures, spoken word or interpretive dance…
We believe telling a brand’s personal story is one of the most effective and authentic forms of marketing.
However, it won’t take you more than a couple of minutes on Google to see that “storytelling” has become quite a buzzword propagated by creatives and corporates alike.
And it makes sense; with such a saturation of information in our lives, brands and individuals are having to create more compelling material to stand out from the crowd. So now, phrases like “corporate storytelling”, “brand story” or “storytelling in business” are more and more common.
Whether you work in design, advertising, music, accounting, teaching, or designing roller-coasters… pretty much any profession can seem to tell a story.
And there’s a backlash.
With some colourful language, Stefan Sagmeister puts it well:
Now obviously Stefan is talking from a design perspective, and I agree with a lot of what he’s saying. But what really interests me is that I think he taps into the wider experience people have, of reacting against words and titles being used merely because it’s in-fashion, and separate from it’s actual meaning.
When everyone and their mums start using a word/phrase, then of course it will start to lose it’s potency.
But our problem with ‘storytelling’ doesn’t finish with an over-use of a word, the issue is also exacerbated by corporations:
Lately you might’ve seen some kind of KFC-esq advert trying to sell you it’s story of humble beginnings and authentic home-cooked chicken… and if you’re anything like me, it doesn’t always leave the sweetest taste in your mouth. It doesn’t take too long before people cotton-on to a buzzword adopted by corporations, and we spot the agenda.
When that agenda seems to be solely focused on making money, it can create a gut reaction where we want to kick away from it… and with that, often the entire concept of storytelling is rejected as well.
But fear not! This is not where our story ends! Of course just because some use a phrase seperate from it’s real meaning or with an agenda, it doesn’t take away from the heart behind the word.
Telling stories is an ancient art form, historically passed from generation to generation, used to remind, educate, entertain, and do all sorts of things. It comes in and out of fashion but it always seems to be able to share an experience and forms community around it.
There’s nothing quite like sitting around a warm fire and telling stories.
So it may be joining the buzzword hall of fame along with ‘authentic’, ‘innovate’, ‘engage’, (there once was a time when the word ‘viral’ meant something bad)… but for us, ‘storytelling’ is here to stay.
And regardless of the trend, or the resulting kickback, we at Vanilla Bear Films still believe that tales of drama, beauty, humour and insight are worth watching, that people crave stories and can find community in them.
A well told testimony opens up hope for it to happen again.
Storytelling is a skill. And like any other skill, it needs to be practiced. That’s exactly what we intend to do.
For the storytellers out there, here a couple of trusty Ted talks from some real expert storytellers: