Elements of Storytelling Series

In this series we discuss the elements of storytelling. Starting with the plot and character, that is your users. Then theme and dialogue, your voice and tone. Finally we cover spectacle, the “splash.”

Do you want to make a huge splash? Or would you rather leave a long lasting impression?


1. Plot and Character


Your WHY for doing what it is you do.

The plot defines what the story is about and what the audience will experience. It sets up the motivations, challenges, the goals, and the road people are taking to fulfill it. Plot helps the audience empathize with the protagonist (that is you in this example). 

Here’s a list of movies that we feel like failed on the plot. As a result, they are typically forgotten. 

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Photo by Donald Tong on Pexels.com

Movies that have been forgettable in 2020:

  1. Bad Boys for Life – just shooting, sarcasm, and running.
  2. Birds of Prey – ?
  3. Fantasy Island – such a missed opportunity 

(source) https://www.imdb.com/list/ls029217360/

So, for branding and design, plot helps our team to get a clear headspace on what to focus on and how to overcome the impending challenges. It sets the purpose for your users to take a look, and decide.


2. Theme and Dialogue


Reaching your customers (Users).

Without characters well defined the audience cannot believe what they are being told. Traits in the characters must be related to them. This helps them see the  justification behind the character’s actions. It builds trust. The movie Joker did this really well. You’re watching a character that is a killer. But the character is so well developed you begin to question yourself during the movie because you empathize with the bullying he is going through.

Characters are your Users. Without them in the center of your design process there are no reasons or problems to justify their need to spend time learning and buying from you.

In this second part of a three part series, we’re discussing the elements of storytelling. This episode is Theme and Dialogue. 

Here on the podcast we continue discussing our love movies, and all things in the “nerd” culture as we believe that is THE culture of the day. 

Often the term brand message is something that sounds philosophical, not tangible. So your “theme” is the message, and the dialogue is your ongoing relation to your customers through your brand’s position.

Theme – Brand message and position

A theme in a story is the subject. Either what the story is about, or what they story is trying to say. Whether it’s England in World War 2, then off to the fantasy of Narnia. Or if it’s a story based on true events like Wolf of Wallstreet. Every movie (story) has a strategic purpose.

The Importance of theme has a great influence on how the plot is being perceived. Do you want the audience to be tense, afraid, excited, happy? Theme influences the emotions you are trying to evoke from your customers about your businesses branding.

Disney does this between one Disney princess to another. Snow White is not Anna from Frozen. Both are fundamentally different. But as Lora points out, to remain, “Disney” the eyes are always drawn the same.


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Google Vs Bing Results. Oops. Context is important.

A good theme is a differentiator

Your competitors do a “what” you do as well. For example, if you make smartphones, great. So do other companies qualified like Samsung vs Apple. Both products may have the same plot, same characters, but the concept between two products is the difference that the audience is looking for. 

A great slogan also sets a standard for your brand’s message and tone (i.e. theme). Think about some that have influenced us over the years, click here to read some (source).

Dialogue – Your audience and you

It is the way your audience (customers) connect with each other and to you. The choice of words used, tone, matter. This is always overlooked and the hardest part in brand development. Can you write copy (words) for your webpages? Yes, but is it going to relate to people and make sense overall? Probably not.

Because this element enables the story to resonate with the intended audience. The factors that affect the Dialogue of a story ranges from:

  1. The Audience
  2. The Message
  3. The Platform used for Distribution of Story

Message converts in the way the product speaks. People expect an authoritative, and helpful voice, when looking for something.

Writing is a technical skill, not always creative

Are the syllables used easily understandable by normal people in their natural setting? There is a readability score for both understanding and SEO. More on that maybe later in another podcast episode.

The tone of the ad copy for a product depends upon the solution it is providing. Circumstances also apply to this as well. So if a product is providing assistance then it must use a tone that suits the situation which is calm and easily understandable.

Storytelling is instrumental to building a brand, but you must catch the attention of your customers first. In this final episode of our three-part series about storytelling, we talk about the idea of creating Spectacle.


3. Spectacle and WW1984


Now let’s talk WW1984 a bit, to set up how we’re relating to “spectacle” and brand strategy.

What is spectacle?

Spectacle is simply creating shock and awe, or a “WOW moment.” 

It doesn’t necessarily have to be controversial or applicable to all people — only your customers.

It’s an event that is memorable, unexpected, and leaves the audience wondering.

Creating a spectacle is a challenge to itself. And once you’ve gained attention, how do you maintain and further itt

Basically “Pretty is easy, smart is hard.”

– Mitch’s Axiom #222

Creative Choices with elements of storytelling

WW1984 made a spectacle of the poster for example – very Ragnarok and exciting. But nothing about the product was 1984-ish at all.

Visual aesthetics are being used to support a theme, taking cues from a certain look and feel (1984). But it seemed to lose the core essence as they worked through creative choices.

You might say form took precedence over the function.

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