Storydoing. There’s a word your spell check won’t recognise… yet. But think, what is your brand doing? ‘Storydoing’ is the latest buzzword I’ve unleashed on my director’s treatments. Agency creatives love it, It has a calming effect on account service and sends clients into paroxysms of pleasure normally associated with unfeasibly high focus group scores. As the zeitmeisters of real admen stopped using ‘storytelling’ since the guy who fixed the park benches started calling himself a post urban storyteller to impress the hot girl in digital. The fact of the matter is that the real storytellers, the people who write books and make films, do not go around calling themselves storytellers. It’s everyone who isn’t a storyteller goes around leaving the labelling themselves as such. If all is exactly the same kind of logic as; I have a pen, so I am a writer. I have a phone, so I am a photographer. I have an iPhone, so now I’m a filmmaker. Sound like a rant… it nothing compared to my dear old friend from HK, Stefan Sagmeister.
Now I first heard “storydoing” at Cannes last year amid exhortations of the death of the brand narrative and the birth of brand drama. The thinking is: the most important question for the 2lst century communication isn’t “what is our brand saying?” over “what is our brand doing?” Now whilst a company without a story is a company without a strategy, how you articulate that story with active engagement is changing fast. There’s a distinction to be made between broadcasting your story in traditional storytelling and living your story, or storydoing. Understanding the difference between the two and making that shift toward the latter is fundamental to building a business. We got a shock on 9/11 and another on 11/9. We are living in exponential times Look at where Trump was a year ago. Doofus to POTUS in under 12 months. What changes will there be in a year’s time? We are living in a world turned upside down. Resources once relatively scarce have become abundant. In the last decade, the number of brands (and stories) has quadrupled. Mostly thanks to the internet, the number of channels in which brands can share and tell those stories has also exploded. Less than a decade ago YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram didn’t exist and Facebook was in beta.
This exponential digital abundance and fragmentation has put a real strain on probably the two most important resources of all: time and money. Broadcasting your brand’s story in today’s networked world is complicated, challenging, expensive, and increasingly inefficient. Finding and aggregating a sizable audience is hard. Numerous agencies and partners are needed to create the myriad of right content for the right medium. Not surprisingly, breaking through the ensuing noise and clutter with a coherent story is even harder.
The genesis goes back a couple of years. To get really up to speed on where this is going pick up True Story by clever Ty Montague. It’s a fascinating read on how to combine story and action to transform your business. It’s part of the reason I write these blogs and that my website looks the way it does. It says “Hey!!! There’s a real person here! This is what I think! This is what I believe! This is what I look like!” On a grander scale, these new companies storydoing companies win because they advance their narrative through action, not communication. Storydoing companies like Red Bull, TOMS shoes, Warby Parker and Tory Burch, for example emphasize the creation of compelling and useful experiences: new products, new services, and new tools that advance their narrative by lighting up the medium of people. What I mean by this is that when people encounter a storydoing company they often want to tell all their friends about it. Storydoing companies create fierce loyalty and evangelism in their customers. Their stories are told primarily via word of mouth, and are amplified by social media tools.
Sounds breakthrough doesn’t it. Yet it’s what the grand old man of digital Seth Godin has been saying since forever. But that’s another story.