Everyone’s a Storyteller

I’ve been getting in a mess recently. Every time I write about storytelling, it leads me to ideas about advertising, content and marketing. And that leads me into thinking about who does it — brands, publishers and advertisers agencies. And none of these names truly reflect what leading companies do these days.

Old labels just don’t work! Today you can be a brand, publisher and advertiser all at the same time.

Amazon and Red Bull are disruptive companies that are equal parts publisher, brand and advertiser.

Red Bull has won prestigious Emmy Awardsfor its film documentaries whilst at the same time has brand worth $7B and has invested over $1B in Formula One sponsorship. Did I mention they sell energy drinks?

Amazon spends over a billion dollars a year in advertising, also wins Emmy Awards and is estimated to have generated over $700M in ad revenue in 2013. These guys happen to be the biggest player in ecommerce too.

Amazon and Red Bull are multi-dimensional. The play across all areas of traditional marketing and media. If we elevate our thinking to the level of storytelling — the puzzle comes together.

Let’s look at these storytelling examples;

  1. Red Bull: A great brand that stands for pushing the limits. Realizing human potential. They share their story though a storytelling spectrum; adrenaline fueled events, epic documentaries and contagious social media.
  2. New York Times: A great publisher that lives on its editorial standards for each and every story. Whilst sometimes polarizing — the publication is America’s paper of record. They share their story via inventive digital and classic analog tools. Their story is so influential, even in this digital era, they even have their own Silicon Valley-style incubator — Betaworks.
  3. Nike: A great advertiser inspires and challenges us with remarkable stories. Nike continually finds new ways to entertain us. At the same time they’ve come to be a beacon for athletic performance and transformation. Their story is so compelling they have even created a foundation focussed on improving the lives of young girls around the world. Now that’s transformation!

In the end Red Bull, New York Times and Nike are all sharing stories. Regardless of selling running shoes or newspapers — everyone is in the business of storytelling.

When you elevate your thinking above advertising and publishing, you’re able to ask of yourself the simple question:

Are we telling a good story?

When companies solve this question, a world of opportunity opens up:

  • Stories become free — they spread across a variety of networks
  • Stories become more shareable — they take on a idea that reflects, even defines, an audience
  • Stories start a conversation — they spark new ideas and conversations
  • Stories build a movement — ideas begin to create positive change in the world

Regardless of what business you’re in — storytelling just makes good sense. And it’s a little less complicated than those old school labels.