There is a recent Dan Wieden video that really got us thinking about mediums, storytelling and context. In essence, he talks about the inter-relationship of communication mediums (screens) and the importance of understanding how and when to use them.
This is an absolutely essential, critical point to understand today when building brands and advertising widgets.
It’s not about doing broadcast simply to do broadcast, or starting a Facebook page under the vague umbrella of a term like “engagement.” It’s about knowing what you are trying to achieve and then applying the right tools to accomplish that objective. But this of course means knowing what tools are in your toolbox, what they do and when to use them. Sounds easy enough, but is it? We’ll get to that in a second.
But wait, in creeps the real elephant in the room; do you know what it is it that you are trying to achieve in the first place? Do you want to build brand affinity or redefine your voice? Do you want to engage, well ok, why? Is the audience ready for that? Is your brand?
When Dan talks about Levi’s trying to re-establish it’s voice, the importance of this all starts to become clear. Discussing their initial hard push in broadcast he says, “If we had waited for a dialogue to happen (in absence of the brand having established who it is) we wouldn’t have been successful.” Indeed.
What are people going to talk about if the brand’s identity isn’t set? Assuming people want to talk about Levi’s just to talk about Levi’s isn’t a viable strategy. People need context, a campfire to sit around. Something defined to discuss and to share.
We have to look beyond the surface level of the mediums we think we understand. Because context is constantly changing, the functional knowledge of our storytelling toolbox must also always be adapting and changing right along with it. Intimate understanding is critical if we want to adapt to the unknown. As Dan rightly says, “half the time people that think they know what the future is, they are just making [**it] up”. Um, yup.
One thing is for certain however, that the art of storytelling will never change and will always be a powerful way to affect human behavior.
By John Burke