Don’t Story-Tell, Story-Make

Written by Jackie Manning, Senior Associate, Planning and Strategy

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‘Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while.’ Not only is this my favorite quote of all time, but this is a big theme at SXSW. Change is constant. It’s seemingly the only constant these days. Disruption is everywhere. What’s the next best thing? What is the newest innovation? How are brands going to address this? What does it mean for me as a consumer? It is impossible to keep up. So much so, that we often find ourselves trying to sort through the sea of sameness and information overload.

To really evaluate breadth of change, I took a step back to think about my every day and the shifts that are happening in real time. The lines between industries are blurred: there are banks that sell coffee, shopping is happening via voice, our president even sells merchandise!

With these changes, the way people are behaving, and consuming has been completely transformed. Raja Rajamannar, the Chief Marketing & Communications Officer at Mastercard, said “if you don’t keep yourself up to date, you have the threat of being obsolete.”

Consumers now have more choice than ever before and are in the drivers seat of how they engage with brands. They are the ones saying what they want, when they want it, and how they want it. This has been completely flipped on its head from tradition.

So how are brands supposed to be adapting to this change? How will brands set themselves apart from the competition and rise to the top of consumers consideration sets? Can they break through the clutter? Rajamannar says that a way brands can do this is through not just the concept of story-telling but ‘story-making’. The biggest take-away over the last few days at every session at SXSW, this theme is present.

The concept of ‘story-making’ is much more focused on experiences. If brands can give consumers memorable experiences that they like so much, they will share their stories with others, and that is the powerful part. These positive experiences then will create a sense of community and first-person narratives. It’s about creating that dialogue around things that are important. All this constant change and interruption will shift in to immersion because there is true power in a story.

Finally, I think sometimes we can become over reliant on data, where we begin to lose creativity in reaching consumers. We need to look at technology, data, digital identities, and trends with a different lens to be able to tell that story and curate experiences from it. We all have to start being comfortable with the uncomfortable.