Stories are the oldest form of communication - we hear and tell them every day of our lives. Stories motivate, persuade, entertain, inform and inspire us. Stories are engaging and help us to share information and ideas. People remember stories...
Yet it’s all too easy to deliver just the bare facts.
Stories have the ability to go beyond the bare facts and ‘join the dots’ in a more human, more memorable way. Truly powerful storytelling can shape peoples beliefs and enable people to discover and own ideas.
For me in my role as design director at The Storytellers, a strategic communication consultancy, stories have a powerful role to play in business, aligning large organisations to a destination and in a way which empowers everyone, from the Chief Executive to the factory sweeper. Everyone has a role to play and everyone connects to the journey the business is on through one story.
But what does storytelling mean for designers?
As designers, our ability to tell compelling stories can be the deciding factor in winning a pitch or getting a concept approved. I’ve worked with some great designers in the past, but the ones whom lacked the ability to share their ideas or convey the rationale behind a concept struggled with client relationships.
Designers shouldn’t expect a client to instantly understand or connect to an idea, they should be able to bring it to life in a relevant and understandable way. (I once presented a concept with hardly any visuals, preferring to use storytelling as my presentation. Of course, this isn’t always a workable option - and most clients like things to be a little more tangible! - but it certainly went towards the client understanding what it was I had in mind).
On the flipside, storytelling can enrich the work we do as designers. Looking back, I can certainly say that storytelling would have changed the way I, say, wrote a piece of direct mail or designed a corporate brochure or even a website. Of course, tone of voice plays a part in how a piece of communication works, but add a clear, compelling story into the mix and you have the ability to capture your audience in more ways than one.
What I find exciting is that by combining the two most powerful forms of communication [storytelling and design], writers and designers can harness the power and core messages of an organisation like Design 21 is a way which triggers both a rational and an emotional reaction.
Get out there and share your stories!