Why brand growth requires a smart transmedia approach
That is not to say that I don’t do public speaking - I am quite reasonable when on topic - but I am a different kind of storyteller: more hack than raconteur and certainly no Peter Ustinov – the greatest raconteur that ever lived. The Fault in our Stars author John Green says it best about many writers, “Writing is something you do alone. Its a profession for introverts who want to tell you a story but don't want to make eye contact while doing it."
No matter how we express ourselves, we all have a unique story to tell. But it is only recently that we have started to tell stories that represent who we are and what we do to live, drive and survive … in business.
There is a great quote by Robert McKee. McKee has taught the likes of John Cleese, William Goldman and Russel Brand how to turn a phrase and is the most sought after screenwriting lecturer of all time. He says, “A culture cannot evolve without honest, powerful storytelling. When society repeatedly experiences glossy, hollowed-out, pseudo-stories, it degenerates. We need true satires and tragedies, dramas and comedies that shine a clean light into the dingy corners of the human psyche and society. If not, as Yeats warned, ‘the centre cannot hold.’”
To apply this to marketing and business is fraught with danger, I would hate to bear the ire of Mr McKee in doing so. Yet when you look at businesses and the way their stories are told, it should be in an honest fashion. Businesses are the very embodiment of satire, tragedy, drama and comedy; they provide the perfect fodder for writers such as myself who attempt to shine a clean light into their operations.
And this light can be shone in so many different formats: storytelling is now no longer limited to the spoken or written word: stories can be told through video, through image representation, animation, illustration, infographics and many more outlets.
And we are not bound by one format to tell the story. Single format storytelling has evolved into a transmedia model.
What is transmedia storytelling?
“Transmedia storytelling according to tstoryteller.com is telling a story across multiple media and preferably, although it doesn’t always happen, with a degree of audience participation, interaction or collaboration. In transmedia storytelling, engagement with each successive media heightens the audience’ understanding, enjoyment and affection for the story. To do this successfully, the embodiment of the story in each media needs to be satisfying in its own right while enjoyment from all the media should be greater than the sum of the parts.”
I’m going to digress slightly here. There is a very interesting article written by blogger Henry Jenkins, who gives insight into how transmedia works in fan fiction. I am not going to go through the entire article; you can click on the link. Here is a small extract: “Transmedia storytelling reflects the economics of media consolidation or what industry observers call ‘synergy’. Modern media companies are horizontally integrated – that is, they hold interests across a range of what were once distinct media industries. A media conglomerate has an incentive to spread its brand or expand its franchises across as many different media platforms as possible. Consider, for example, the comic books published in advance of the release of such films as Batman Begins and Superman Returns by DC (owned by Warner Brothers, the studio that released these films). These comics provided backstory, which enhanced the viewer’s experience of the film even as they also help to publicize the forthcoming release (thus blurring the line between marketing and entertainment). The current configuration of the entertainment industry makes transmedia expansion an economic imperative, yet the most gifted transmedia artists also surf these marketplace pressures to create a more expansive and immersive story than would have been possible otherwise.”
It’s fascinating. The way media has transformed now allows businesses and brands to create truly immersive experiences that cut across a range of formats.
Those of us in the content marketing space must look at this practice and see how we can best represent our clients’ stories by making the most of brand representation through multi-channel media.
The point is you don’t have to be a great raconteur to tell a powerful story, you can now tell your story in so many different ways and you owe it to yourself to keep your brand fresh by experimenting with these different storytelling methods because as bestselling author Philip Pullman says, “After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.”