There are a lot of buzz words when it comes to social media and branding, and because of the fast pace of all things digital these days, it can be difficult to keep up. Their lifespan becomes increasingly shorter until they become overused and start to lose their meaning altogether.
Storytelling is one of the more recent words that has followed this trend, but it also happens to be a concept that I’ve built my brand upon and consider an invaluable tool, whether undergoing a brand design, building a visual or social media strategy, or creating content.
Even more so than that though, I'm captivated by the power that a well-told story can hold.
It’s interesting to look back on your childhood and think about what was important you when you were a kid, or what you loved to do that relates to your chosen path. I’ve thought about this a lot recently.
When I was a kid, we had this great little cubby hole under our stairs that I would set up “shop” in, and playing dress up was a regular occurrence. Years later, I found myself as a boutique owner.
I also went through a phase where the answer to the classic “what do you want to be when you grow up” was author, and now I find writing to be a key part of what I do on a daily basis.
Throughout all my various interests and phases, storytelling was one constant. I had a wandering imagination, and making up stories and allowing myself to get lost within them was how much of my time was spent.
There's a certain magic in stories, and there are few things I love more than watching a story come to life through well thought out details. The best stories to me combine words, written or spoken, and visuals, imaginary or tangible, and it's through our sense of style and point of view that our stories take on meaning and become our own.
WHY DO WE TELL STORIES?
We use stories to better understand our world and to share that with others, and whether we do this with words or visuals, the importance of the content, and the way in which we share stories allows us to forge connections and create meaningful relationships. The way we tell our stories may change depending on the tools or technology available to us, and each medium provides a new opportunity to create a narrative.
Visual storytelling makes something real, exciting, compelling and inclusive. We have a tendency to want to be immersed and involved, seeing ourselves as part of the story and creating a role for ourselves within the narrative.
A story provides the “why” behind something, it offers the opportunity for someone to see how it could fit in with their life and allows them to form a personal connection with it. It sparks emotion and builds trust.
There are different tools for storytelling, and as a brand, it’s part of our job to decide on what parts of our story we will share, where we share them, and how we choose to do so.
THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN STORYTELLING
- Make sure it aligns with your values and that you’re telling your own story.
- Remember: people connect with people. Share content that is relatable and will resonate.
- Subtlety. This isn’t about pushing your product or ideas on someone. This is about sharing and providing an opportunity for your audience to form their own narrative.
- Build a lasting relationship, take them along on the journey. A story tends to have characters and arcs, so keep that in mind as well.
- Don't forget about the power of images and the importance of creating, curating and sharing images that are aligned with your brand and will resonate with your audience.
- Determine the mix of storytelling tools that works for you.
When I had the shop, I told stories by the collections I curated, the displays I designed and the photo shoots I styled. Now, storytelling takes form in the letters and blog posts I write, the visual content I create, and the micro stories I share on social media (more on that, right this way). I've also begun to work with other brands and businesses to help them tell their story, whether that's via a suite of custom content, a strategy for their brand, or a styled shoot.
But no matter visual content I'm creating and where it shows up, there's that one common thread running through everything, anchored in that one little question — what's the story I'm trying to tell?