Become an addictive storyteller

Storytelling is a two-step process for a business.

First you need to define your core story: what is the unique story your brand wants to tell over next 10 years? On what kind of journey you want to take your audience?

When this gets clear, that's when you start to tell all the stories that are consistent with this outline.

The kinds of stories you can tell are infinite in terms of form and content. The story of your origins, of your founders, employees, products, clients, mentors, hopes, failures, expertise... narrated in videos, infographics, native ads, white papers, design, articles, tweets, manifesto, drawings, events... Let your imagination (and pleasure) roam free.

Shape up your style

One of the most classic form of brand content, inspired by American journalism, is creative non-fiction. That's what brands use when they decide to become brand publishers (read the Starbucks example).

Writing good creative non-fiction is not easy but when done well, it's brand storytelling in its purest form.

Here are a few tips that I gathered from journalist Susan Orlean, editor at the New Yorker, and screenwriter Andrew Stanton, producer at Pixar. I hope they spark your imagination and get you started on the right foot.

Your opening paragraph should leave a mystery. 

It needs to make your reader want to keep reading. So it shouldn't be a capsule summary of what the whole story will be. Think of it like a striptease.

Give them 2+2 and let them do the math.

Don't tell people what you think of the story, but show them how the main character experienced it and let the audience draw a picture in their mind of themselves in the same situation. 

Tell the truth.

Don't posture. You want people to relate to your story. Not to admire you. Don't position yourself as a world expert on something.

Find humor in the absurd.

Try to show the main character is fallible. Show human behavior in all of its glory, absurdity, eccentricity. 

Leave them thirsty to know more.

The link below is an introductory lesson given by Lee Gutkind, founder of the literary magazine Creative Nonfiction, in the New York Times.

"Notice — and this is critical — that something must happen, no matter how trivial, in each scene. The beginning engages a reader, makes a promise. The end of the scene fulfills the promise and makes the audience want to know what will happen next."

2-mn read: The Yellow Test (article)