Stories are so important. They are the main tool with which we learn, share, connect and communicate in all aspects of our existence (we should be making better use of stories). Narrative, then, must be a major key to improving the effectiveness of our stories.
Certain people have a great talent for creating a narrative that brings a story to life, encompassing you with it, almost as though you are somehow a part of the experience itself. People with such talents create things like The Octonaughts (the makers of which can be found at this wonderful website) and Hoxton Street Monster Supplies. Stories aren’t just for children, though, grown-ups use them everyday too.
Storytelling is, at it’s heart, very honest. This may sound odd: stories are often used to mislead—the used car salesman stereotype doesn’t tell honest stories, for example. What I mean, is that when the creator of the narrative cares about the story itself, it is evident, whereas when the creator’s motives are weighted towards some other objective, such as making a sale, or persuading you to vote in a certain way, the story tends to feel a little cheap—it lacks something. More often than not, we sense the ulterior motive.
Advertising is an interesting case. Although the ultimate motive of those paying for these TV ads is selling financial services, it seems obvious to me that those who made the actual ads were more interested in the narrative that they were creating—they weren’t selling financial services, they were creating a world.
The generic nature of the stories being told in these ads is an important factor in their narrative success. These stories are not about the organisation being advertised, they’re about the experiences that many of us have. They are stories about about people. I think it’s unlikely that a story about a large, faceless financial organisation, or their specific services or “benefits,” would have been embraced in this way by the ads’ makers. Such a beautifully engrossing narrative world could not have been created for a disingenuous story.
As Really Simple progresses and grows, I’ll be actively seeking out great storytellers to work with, to share stories with, and to help create narratives that make the world an even more interesting place. I’ll also be careful to ensure that we have honest stories to tell.