Storytelling is as ancient as time itself. It has been around since before the existence of the written language – relied on to pass myths, traditions and moral advice through the generations. Stories are an incredibly effective tool for communication. Being hyper-intelligent and hyper-social animals, stories have become one of the foundational blocks of man’s existence.
Storytelling is a means of communicating using words, images and a narrative to captivate and entertain. It is often colored with improvisation or embellishment.
Disney Fairy Tales and Nursery Rhymes – they tell stories to entertain children (and adults). The Bible is a series of stories inspiring the largest religion in the world. Folk tales like Aesop Fables, and campfire stories are told for passing on traditions and give moral advice. Shakespeare’s stories, 400 years later are still being adapted into movies.
Good stories move people. A well-put together story draws you in. It drags you through the mud, leads you up the mountain, puts you through the fire. It’s a journey of discovery, exploring each character, and in it, yourself. And finally, the ever hoped for ‘happy ever after’.
We know storytelling works as a communication tool. But really, why does it work? Here are some of the things that makes a good story.
TAKES YOU ON A JOURNEY
Remember the last time you read a good book. Your eyes were glued, you had been lying in the same spot for a while. Your muscles ache, your coffee was getting cold, you should probably clean the kitchen. And yet you couldn’t tear yourself away from the book.
That’s when you know you are living the story. A good story pulls you in.
It makes you forget yourself (even if only for an instant), and transports you to a different place where there is adventure, magic and mystique.
MAKES YOU FALL IN LOVE
A good story resonates with people’s sympathetic nature. The obstacles raised are universal to touch sensitivities, compelling feelings of empathy and familiarity.
You know a story has failed when it leaves you untouched. When you put a book down or leave the cinema feeling indifferent. When you love something, you want to share it. Even if you don’t agree with it – at least you will say why. Either way, it’s a win for the movie-maker and the book writers. There is an engagement. They have touched you.
COMPELS TO ACTION
Good stories move people to action. It makes people want to change —the way we feel, think, act, and behave. They hurry to take up arms. It stirs the will power to accomplish things. Good stories persuade to action.
Storytelling used to be about cultures, traditions and heritage. Used to pass on stories to keep families, religions and cultures strong.
And this is why marketers have since adopted it. Storytelling done right is a powerful marketing tool. Brands have adopted storytelling in their marketing strategy from as early as 1895. They use stories to talk about their heritage, where they come from. They know it builds trust and establishes them as the authority.
For a better understanding of the history of storytelling for brand building, here is a timeline infographic: Brief History of Content Marketing infographic by the Columbus Convention Center.
Do you have a story to tell?
What does a good story do to you? Leave a comment below and let’s start a conversation.
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This is the first of a series on storytelling. We look forward to seeing where this journey take us ourselves.
* The infographic above was created on Piktochart. Using infographics to tell stories since 2011.