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Story is Marketing

Lesson 4 from: Storytelling: Using Story to Influence and Connect

Stefan Mumaw

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Lesson Info

4. Story is Marketing

Lesson Info

Story is Marketing

Alright, so what are some examples, what are some ways with which we as professional creatives tell story? And how can story be inserted into the way that we do it? Let me give you some examples of ways stories have been told on a variety of mediums, with which some of us may or may not work. So, for example, when we talk about design. This is Herb Lubalin's amazingly wonderful logo for a magazine called Mother & Child. A magazine that was never produced, amazingly enough, right? If you know anything about Herb Lubalin, he's an incredible illustrator/typographer who lived in the 60s and 70s and worked in the 60s and 70s, but there is a story innate to that mark, isn't there? There's something unique about what's happening there. That, if you're going to read a magazine called Mother & Child, you know exactly what's happening here. You know exactly where the story lives within it. That it, in essence, this is a magazine about you, and a particular moment in your life when someth...

ing's happening, something that's amazingly wonderful, something that's growing within you. And there's a story that kind of plays itself out, even in just the context of a single design. We can see story obviously in copy, but even from a marketing standpoint, how do we see copy play out? This is a spread ad for Wilson Tennis. "You own it all, you own it, all of it. The stadium, the court, the fans, the opponent, the sky, the earth, everything, You own it all in this one moment. Every mile you ran, every practice serve you crushed, every ounce of being still left on that court has played its part. You feel every point like a punch. Hear every voice that's ever given you guidance. Through white tape and black string. You've read every subtle lean of every steel-willed giant that has stood between you and this moment. And you took it to them, not from them. You own this moment. And with fists clenched, back arched, eyes closed to the sky, you howl triumph's cry as if to say 'I stand last.' You may not scream it, but you feel it. And feel is everything." You can begin to see the copy assigning itself to a moment in time that this particular audience understands. More importantly, that this particular audience desires and wants. The idea of desire and want is a primary element to story as we partake in it, in the context of marketing, advertising and design. They're creating a world that could be, if you use their products, and you engage in their brand. That's an interesting way to approach story as well. Alright, how many of you knew that was an actual story, that was a real story? It's Christmas Day Truce, World War I, where they came out of the foxholes and played soccer on Christmas Day. It's an amazing example of humanity, you know, taking part of something that's incredibly inhuman, right, in the context of war and a wonderful example of the way that people can interact when you take something like Christmas and you take something like a symbol of Christmas, in their particular instance it's chocolate. It's a very small piece of something that's much larger from a human standpoint. Our ability to use it in the context of linear narrative and be able to use story in a way that I think is the most obvious for us from a video standpoint because of that linear narrative; the ability for us to tell a story over the context of time, that allows us to fill in a lot of those pieces that some of us don't normally have the ability to fill in if we're creating singular objects or artifacts of design. But in this particular instance, it gives you an example of how that structure kind of plays out. There's also things like campaigns. This is a wonderful campaign from Lego. It's telling a very interesting story about imagination without using any words. Brudder is the ad agency behind it, and again, it's as simple as it needs to be. You don't need to add anything more to it. The story is already there. A story already exists. And if you are a parent of a child who has Legos, it feels like stepping on those objects when you're coming down your stairs. But it's, again, another wonderful example of how we can use imagery to tell a story, and kind of fill in those missing pieces about the context of animation. But there's also sort of the periphery of our industry as well, things that we create. For instance, examples from an experiential standpoint. Often times, we're asked to tell stories out in the physical space, whether that's in a tradeshow, whether that's in some sort of guerrilla marketing aspect out on the street. There are ways for us to use story in a physical space, and here was a great example from HBO. We can begin to see it play out in even experiential ways, where stories being used to communicate brand character. Many of us are also asked or tasked with creating presentation. The nature of presentation, as we know, has been fairly slide-heavy in most cases, right? There's an old adage about death by PowerPoint or death by bullets, in the context of the way that we typically will approach most presentation. But all presentation is, is a story. Which story are we trying to tell? And inevitably, a presentation is designed to create or enact some sort of behavior. You want them to do something. For most of us who are in our industry, it's typically sales presentations or idea pitch presentations. And in each case, we're telling a story. And in the way that we set up that presentation can do so. This is a presentation that I was a part of building for a client, a National Soccer Coaches Association of America. They were going through a re-brand. This presentation was designed for 10 people, the Board of Directors, and they just wanted to communicate to the Board of Directors how this re-brand should happen. So as we were going through from a story standpoint, we started to actually talk to the people who are our membership, and get their stories from them. And we asked them very simple questions. When you leave the game, what do you want your players to say that you did for them? And inevitably across the board, it was never that I taught them the game better than anybody else. It was always that they acted in some form of nurturing capacity, that they were a father figure or a mother figure to me during that time. So we engaged with the audience in such a way that we could help tell the story of what this brand should be, not just give them the points of why a brand should be changed or what the brand should look like, but why. Hearing specifically from the people who would be impacted from that brand. Why is an incredibly important question to this. Why should this happen? And the only way to really be able to communicate the idea of why, is to tell someone a story. And so even in the context of presentation, we can use story. So those are just some of the examples of ways with which marketing can be used to tell story. Any questions up to this point? Anything come to mind as you start evaluating some of this? Yes. Just one from the internet, Stefan. Kashia would like to know, do you have any suggestions on how we can quickly recognize a story? I find PR people are really good at quickly finding the most compelling stories in a situation. Yeah, you know, we're going to go through, we're going to go through a story structure. And in that story structure, you're gonna find, we're going to go through a five-part story structure. The key elements to a five-part story structure, from a, being able to quickly identify what's going to be the most compelling part of a story, is to find what the, what the inciting incident is and then define what the conclusion is. And then, from an emotional standpoint, understanding what emotions our audiences are already having. So you'll see once we go through the structure aspect of what a story is, where those plot points exist and what you can pull from them. I'm always apt to go straight to the audience. How do they feel in any particular moment? What moves them? I'm a big believer in the motivations of human behavior. Really, there's really only two motivations of human behavior, and that's love and fear. We do everything for the love of something or the fear of something. Everything. So from a story standpoint, identifying what those loves and fears are, and then where our brand fits into that message usually unveils or shows us where that story should be.

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Ratings and Reviews

Mary Rainwater

Outstanding class. Stephan Mumaw is a wonderful presenter with a wealth of knowledge. He delivers a ton of information in an organized and fun way! As a fiction writer,I was unsure if this course would be all that helpful. However, once I realized that the "product" I was selling was the "theme" (the unspoken moral throughline) of my story everything clicked into place! I highly recommend this course to all writers who wish to better "sell" their own "product".


GREAT CLASS!! Loved the content. Engaging speaker and wonderful examples shared. Took a lot from this class that I will bring back to my daily creative work!


Stefan was an amazing speaker... He provided great detail in explaining the structure of a story, and his example/videos really drove home the points he was making... He had wonderful real-world professional experiences to share.

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