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This is the communal blog of Karin Botta and Uno de Waal, business unit director and senior social strategist at trigger/isobar (www.isobar.co.za), who are both attending South by South West (SxSW) 2012, the annual film, music and interactive festival held in March in Austin, Texas. Follow @triggerisobar and Twitter List @Bizcommunity/sxswsa2012 for the duration of the festival.
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[SxSW 2012] Part VII: Demystifying storytelling

19 Mar 2012 14:00:00
[SxSW 2012] Part VII: Demystifying storytelling
Karin Botta: Another prevalent theme at SXSW was content marketing - something that we are all talking about and including in most 2012 digital strategies. I went to two panels that addressed this topic in different ways: ‘brands as patterns’ - from a design point of view, and ‘multiplatform storytelling’ from a film, entertainment and marketing point of view.

‘Storytelling’ is a bit of a buzzword, and how it’s mostly being interpreted is only by telling linear stories either about the brand’s history, testimonials from users of the brand, and sometimes stories around values of the brand, as well as sometimes educational stories about the product. It’s either seen by consumers as an editorial or a short documentary, either online or in a Facebook community, and that’s pretty much where it ends.

Fundamental brand strategy theory

When I studied brand strategy a few years ago, we learned the fundamental theory that brands need to define what they stand for and what they look like, and make sure that the experience was consistent across all touchpoints, from the store to the packaging to the TV ad to the website and so on.

Although that theory is still relevant, creative communication is becoming more complex, now that experience and engagement are the differentiators, and also now that the consumer market is defined more by individuals, with varying needs and interests, who want to be spoken to as an individual.

So I learned a few things from these panels, which both put out the idea that storytelling does not have to be linear and can be used to take consumers on a journey, or even play a game. So, while with traditional brand strategy the idea is to communicate the same message in different ways, multiplatform storytelling must tell a story in different ways and in different places, weaving together to form rich and engaging communications.

Storytelling isn’t limited to the digital medium or to a TV ad necessarily; it needs to either be central to a brief or a cross-platform channel strategy. The best example of a story that illustrates this point is the story of Christmas. It means different things to you and me and other cultures, and it can be told in hundreds of ways in different places, but everyone knows what it means.


The second thing I learned was the notion of brands also being non-linear. It’s true that it’s important to keep consistency across touchpoints but this holds a risk of becoming repetitive. Again, experience and engagement are differentiators, so to keep these experiences fresh they need to change and seem new to an audience each time, with a singular, recognisable theme or pattern behind it.

The experience also doesn’t all have to lead to one place, for example, a website or a Facebook page; storytelling should be present in all media.

Finally, stories don’t need to be intrinsically linked to a brand or a product story. There is room for a new kind of creativity that still markets and communicates the brand, but engages in ways both useful and entertaining.

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[19 Mar 2012 14:00]

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Marija Ruygrok
The information in this article will be very useful for Accents Training when coaching Presentation Skills - thanks from www.accents.co.za
Posted on 20 Apr 2012 17:12