knowledge Opinions

The Power of Story Telling

by Greg Wood, 07 August 2014

Good stories can reflect the stark truth of real life, or be utterly fantastic. A good story can take weeks to tell, or be told within a minute.

Stories have of course been told through the ages. From paintings and carvings to the written word, photos and film. It’s one of the things that sets humanity apart. From our first year of life to our end, everyone appreciates a good story.

So what makes a story, ‘good’?

First, it captures you. And second, it changes you.

If you can put a book down, it’s not doing its job. On TV, you only flick channels when the story hasn’t grabbed you. If it hasn’t got your attention, it simply isn’t a good story.

To be a good story, must it really change you? Absolutely! You need to go from nothing to… a laugh, a smirk, a tear, an appreciation, a realisation, an idea, a decision. To standing up, or to speaking out. Every good story will bring some kind of change.

Of course, we tell stories all the time. If we don’t, we should.

Whether we’re in marketing teams or on the agency side, we’re all battling for a share of someone’s mind and to be successful we need to see changes in behaviour.

When the exec asks what the plan is for the year ahead, they don’t want to know we’ve got more resource or that we’ll be working harder. They want to know we’ve uncovered some surprising truth about the people we make our products or services for, some new need we can meet that will change it all.

When we write briefs for our creative teams, we don’t just give them a load of information. Our job is to tell a single story; relatable and focused. To do this we have to simplify the context, the business and the need. But we also have to inspire them. They want unique, provocative insights. So while we simplify the big picture, we expand and colour the details, the human elements…the important things.

And that’s just a brief for creative work.

Every piece of communication worth its weight will tell a good story. It can be a story in an image or a single word, but a story all the same. Because what makes good advertising is what makes a good story. Before it can achieve anything, advertising has to catch your attention. And like a good story, successful communication changes you, in one way or another. It informs, questions, redirects.

So don’t take the humble story for granted. It’s at our centre.

— Greg Wood, Strategic Planner at Ward6

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