The Art of Storytelling

The art of storytelling has changed over the years. Constantly evolving to fit and adapt to the new mediums that are continually emerging.

Whether you’re writing novels or telling your brand’s story via marketing, it’shard work.

At times it can almost feel as if the world is against your chances of success…

After all, it’s so easy to start a website or a blog these days, that anyone can call themselves a writer. Whether they can write or not (ahem).

So with the more chattering digital mouths there are around it’s even harder for us to tell our stories. Even the best voices struggle to be heard in a bustling crowd.

But storytellers are still vital to the world. Even if there are more of them. The best ones will stand the test of time, the bad ones (hopefully) won’t.

cacofonix

(Cacofonix, the fictional bard from ‘Asterix the Gaul’)

If it wasn’t for the writers, bards and artists of the past there’s very little that we’d know about our history.

This tale, coming to you from ancient Mongolia, is one that I always use to remind me of the importance of storytelling:

How Tales Originated among the Mongol People:

“Once upon a time, the Black Death descended on Central Asia and began its assault on the people of Mongolia.

Thousands fled, leaving the sick, and as they fled they said ‘We must try to escape. Let Fate decide the Destiny of the suffering.’

Among the sick there was a young boy called Tarvaa. For days Tarvaa’s body battled the forces of death but finally, weak and feverish, the young man lost all awareness of this world. Tarvaa’s spirit thought that young Tarvaa had died.

The spirit left Tarvaa and rose up out of the boy’s body and started the sad journey to the Underworld.

On arrival the Great Khan of the Underworld said to Tarvaa ‘Why have you left your body while it is still alive? Why have you come to my Kingdom?’

Trembling with fright, Tarvaa’s spirit replied, ‘Great Khan, all my family and all my friends who remained in that World stood over my body and said I was dead. I did not wait for the terrible last moment, but simply left on my journey to you.’

The Khan was touched by the simplicity and honesty of Tarvaa’s spirit. He told the spirit gently, ‘Young spirit, your time has not yet come. You do not belong here. You must return. But before you set out on your long journey home, I will grant you one gift. You may choose and take back with you anything from my Kingdom that you desire.’

Tarvaa looked around, and saw all earthly joys and talents – wealth, happiness, laughter, luck, music and dance. ‘Give me the art of storytelling’, he said, for he knew that stories can summon up all other joys.

The Khan then instructed the spirit, ‘Now return home at once. Use this gift well in life, and do not come here again until you have been called!’ So he returned to his body, only to find that the crows had pecked out the eyes. Since he could not disobey the Khan of the Underworld he re-entered his body.

Young Tarvaa recovered from the Black Death and lived on, blind, but with the knowledge of all tales. For the rest of his life, Tarvaa would travel to the far corners of the Mongol lands recounting wonderful tales and legends to his people and bringing joy and wisdom.”

(I first learnt this story in John Man’s fantastic book, Genghis Khan: Life, Death, and Resurrection)

 

 

 

 

 

 

How old Tom & Jerry cartoons can help you tell your brand’s story

When you were younger, did you ever watch the old ‘Tom & Jerry’ cartoons?

Or, any of those other old school cartoons from that time period?

If so, you may remember an old gag they used to do.

Usually it involved a newly born baby duckling (or baby bird in general) who would mistake one of the characters (usually Tom) for its mother.

It would then follow him round for the majority of the episode.

This harks back to a phenomenon that animal experts call ‘imprinting’. So, when a baby duck is born it usually sees its mother right away and then never forgets her.

However if the duck sees someone or something else first it can often think of it as its mother.

When it comes to branding, if you’re to tell your story and make it stick in your potential customers’ minds it’s worth thinking about your unique selling points.

Is your business a world first? Do you do something that’s never been done before?

How can you imprint yourself in someone’s mind to make sure you’re the first thing they think of?

Think coke…which brand do you think of? Think fast food burgers…who comes up? Think low cost airline…who do you think of?

And so on.

Your answers to these questions could be marginally different to mine…but I bet that we’re very close.

Telling stories is all about being unique and, when you can be, being a world first.

By Ashley Brown

This article was inspired by “Positioning” by Al Ries and Jack Trout