Telling Stories

     Try asking an advertising agency what it is they really do. There have been two noticeable trends in advertising etiquette over the past 10 (ish) years that have greatly affected the answers you’ll receive. The first being the major trend against referring to oneself as an “advertising agency.” Rather, you will most likely be scolded and reminded by your peers that they work for a conversation catalyst, or idea factory, which is fine. We should applaud any attempt to give greater depth and insight (transparency/honesty) into our organizations true practices. The second trend, which seems to make itself present on many agencies website’s is an explanation (usually video or flash) of why one should feel the need to market their Brands “story,” or the “story of their Brand.” This idea of a telling a “story” might have been hard for some people to grasp/accept at first, especially when the Brand in question has sales that result in millions of dollars, and never used a “story” to get where it is today.

     Well it turns out that people in the advertising industry are not only onto something, but hitting the nail on the head with deadly accuracy. There is no such thing as a race to the bottom; and in an era where outsourcing has dropped prices to unprecedented lows, a products design and the brand’s story, are now the two main influences on a consumers decision to purchase. The story is more important than ever before. The inspiration for this post came from a Ted Talk by Joshua Foer, a journalist who, “accidentally” won the U.S. Memory Championship after attempting to walk a mile in his subjects shoes. It’s a twenty minute video, but well worth the watch.

Joshua explains to his audience that people who compete in these contests of extreme memorization are just like you and I. They don’t have abnormally large brain and they aren’t necessarily more intelligent than the next guy/gal. They’ve simply strengthened and conditioned their minds/memories using memorization techniques that are over 2,500 years old. And not to ruin the video for you, but what do you think one of the main techniques memory polishing techniques is? You guessed it…telling a story…a wild, crazy, (sometimes raunchy!) descriptive, and unforgettable story that connects your mind visually and emotionally with what you are trying to remember.  Now wait, remind me what they goal of advertising is again? Oh yes, to REMIND people what you product is, to REMIND them what problem your product solves (the why), and to REMIND where and how they can buy it.

Plus, who doesn’t love a good story?

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