Skip to 0 minutes and 4 secondsI'm Gary Hoff. I've been working in digital design and brand experience for the past 22 years. I'm executive creative director at design consultancy Grampy. We're a digital product design company here in London. I also run the D&AD training course, Storytelling in the Digital Space. So what do we actually mean when we talk about storytelling in design and advertising? Simply put, it's putting your creative work in a structure that has a beginning, middle, and end; just like a story. But making that story as compelling and truthful, just as you would in filmmaking.
Skip to 0 minutes and 41 secondsMy name is Jim. My name is Otto. Pleased to meet you, Otto. You think of every interaction and piece of work as another chapter in that story. Get it right, and it will elevate your brand above others by making your work memorable in an emotional way. For me, storytelling is key for any sort of communication. It makes a campaign richer. It helps you understand what a brand stands for. It builds a relationship between a customer and that brand. It brings more value to an idea, moving it on from a concept and lifting it up to another level, where it can be a better connect with the right customers. Storytelling creates interest and intrigue.
Skip to 1 minute and 22 secondsIt makes the user and the customer much more engaged, and it makes your message much more memorable. There's a study that says that stories are 22 times more memorable than just facts alone. So that makes stories obviously a great idea to start communicating to people. But it's not just about remembering the brand. It's about fostering an emotional connection with your audience. If you're true to your word, and the product and the brand live by that word, then customers will be loyal. You only have to look at a brand such as John Lewis to see that.
Skip to 2 minutes and 5 secondsRobert McKee says, "When a society repeatedly experiences glossy, hollowed-out pseudo-stories, it degenerates." And the point he's making here is that we can't just put filler in. We need to be making something that's sincere and has got substance. Something we believe in. A great example of storytelling in advertising is the Canal + campaign, "The Bear".
Skip to 2 minutes and 35 secondsSo just watching "The Bear" here, and straight away you're into this scene. There's this mediaeval war, there's this fight, there's this hero- heroine woman fighting. She's slaying people. Okay, that was great guys! Really great. The fire should be higher. This bear walks out onto the set. It's like a hollowed out bear. You're thinking, Why is it not like a proper bear? He's giving direction to the actors. He's like pointing out things on the set. He's then working with the special effects team. He is an amazing director. Very sensitive. I don't give a shit! There's this explosion in the sort of meeting with the production team. Castle burning, we like that. Everybody screaming. Lot of blood... Boom!
Skip to 3 minutes and 19 secondsBut he's got this sort of pretentious air of about him as well. [SPEAKING FRENCH] The twist is that the bear is obviously a rug on the floor watching films. The core message is that Canal + have a huge library of films, which will make you passionate about cinema. They could have communicated that message by showing a montage of film clips available or stating the number of films that they have online, but it's really generic. Would you have formed an emotional connection to that? Probably not. Instead, by creating a memorable character like the bear and telling his story, a movie watching bear turned Hollywood director, this instantly becomes an engaging, funny, and memorable campaign. So where do you start your idea?
Skip to 4 minutes and 12 secondsHow do you begin to imagine your story? Often people start to think of the types of media they want to use. It will be an app or it will be a website. Or maybe a poster. These aren't stories or ideas, they're just tools that you can use to tell the story with. They're just vehicles. What you need to do is go back a step and always start with the big idea. And start with the insights around that idea. What is it you're trying to communicate? In the case of the bear, Canal Plus can make you fall in love with cinema. Then you can move on to the storytelling piece. How can your big idea be enhanced by a narrative?
Skip to 4 minutes and 53 secondsWhat emotion do you want to invoke? Again, in "The Bear", the big idea is brought to life by a funny French bear rug turned director. We see him as a bad-tempered and an emotional creative person. We know the stories of hot-headed directors in Hollywood, and believe this situation. This narrative brings the big idea to life. I want that bear to actually make films; I want to see them. So to reiterate, you need the big idea before you can attach a story. And you need a story before you can start thinking about the touchpoints and the tools of how you tell that story.
Skip to 5 minutes and 35 secondsNext time we're going to look at a series of tools you can use to start to create and map out your story.
Storytelling in commercial creativity
A brand needs to carve an identity for itself - it needs to make clear to its audience exactly what it stands for. Storytelling does this in a memorable way, engaging customers.
Stories are 22 times more memorable than facts alone. But it’s not just about the mind, it’s about emotional connections too. If a brand follows through sincerely on its promise of what it stands for, the customer believes in it, and becomes loyal. The brand builds a relationship - one with potential to last.
Two Minute Task
What emotions can you identify in the clips shown? How do these link to the messages of the brand?
You can watch the full videos mentioned in the related links below.