A. Sabine W.
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  • Writer's pictureTara


How your brand storytelling can say more with less.

En Excerpt from Shannon O'Neill / The Content Standard and The Sarcastic Muse

In our times, when Instagram and Snapchat reduce storytelling to a view seconds it’s more imperative than ever to get to the point fast. Too many words and jargon makes you 'invisible' to your audience. You must boil down your key brand message and values in storytelling—to a sentence or two.

Say it with Less!

When it comes to brand content vision, get to your core message fast and say it with less. Luckily, this is not a modern problem and great storytellers understand the problem - like Ernest Hemingway. He called his method the iceberg theory of writing:

[...] “If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water. [...]" Excerpt from: Ernest Hemingway in Death in the Afternoon

The theory is that brand stories will have more impact when the story content excludes those details that your audience will know naturally - and feel naturally. Hemingway believed that this 'trust' forms a stronger bond with your audience because the ‘brand’ has confidence that the customer is knowledgeable and intuitive enough to pick up on the pieces that were left out.

HOUSE of ICONIC - The “Iceberg Theory” in branded storytelling.

The “iceberg theory” describes that the gravity of an iceberg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water and visible. Your brand audience will only directly ‘see’ the tip of the iceberg, meaning only 20% of the story is directly revealed through words. The other 80% is the knowledge you have about your ’brand characters’ lies under water, is not visible and is integrated into the structure of the story.

To get Authenticity, you need a Back-Story like an Iceberg.

You need to generate a mass of background material that will never be shared directly. I.e. the true meaning of the brand value story should not be displayed on the surface, but rather be found inherently embedded within the structure of the brand.

The 'Ignored' Parts of the Story strengthen the Story and make your Audience FEEL SOMETHING more than they understand.

In other words, the customer will feel a deeper connection to the story because they had to use their knowledge and emotional intelligence to understand the details that were absent. This allows your customer to trust the brand because the brand knows its customers are smart enough to comprehend the meaning.

But – you must instinctively understand where to draw the line between what your readers inherently know and what does not deserve to be drafted into detail. This will give your story weight and gravitas. More here and here In The Art of the Short Story

Example: The Cadbury “Mum's Birthday TV Advert”.

THE BRAND STORY: “Let’s celebrate the little acts of kindness that happen every day, just because. There’s a glass and a half in everyone.”

The ad is in its original length 'massive' 60 seconds long as you see it below but was edited by 50%, leaving in only a view seconds of every scene and dismissing the entire introductory train opening scene.

Get Beneath the Surface of the Waterline and Know Your Audience

The art is to just to know enough about what differentiates your brand from others in your market – and convey this key message and WHY it is newsworthy. It must be a story that resonates with your audience and most crucial - must create a positive warm emotional response. […]

Excerpt: “[...] Over-explaining, bragging, and statistics are not going to sell your brand. But a deep knowledge and understanding of your brand and audience will.

Think of your brand as a character that you must understand inside and out.

A great example of brand storytelling is the Dos Equis “Most Interesting Man in the World” campaign. […] Running for a decade, each statement is a teaser to an interesting story. […] There’s no over-explaining, just a trace of a story, a story in one line.

Again, it’s the iceberg. Your audience doesn’t need to understand your brand’s thinking; they only need its insight. Why?


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