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Why Agencies and Brand Need to Embrace True Storytelling | Part One

Branded Content Is Not The Same Thing.

To build on the opportunities that today’s hyper connected and social consumer as well as new distribution platforms offer, agencies and brands need to move away from thinking about branded content and embrace true storytelling.

The difference? Stories rely on the intended audience to develop their own imagery and detail to complete and, most importantly, to co-create, whereas content does not. Content is primarily created in the internal mind of the content originator, with no heed to the mind or to the context of the audience.

The truly great storytellers have long embraced the fact that the most powerful stories happen in the mind of the audience, making each and every story unique and personal for the individual. They also understand that stories are important because they are inherent to the human experience. Stories are how we pass on our accumulated wisdom, beliefs and values. They are the process through which we describe and explain the world around us, and our role and purpose in it. Audiences have always known this and asked for stories—they’ve never asked for content.

As the German literary scholar Wolfgang Iser noted: “No tale can ever be told in its entirety.” His reader-response theory “recognizes the reader as an active agent who imparts ‘real existence’ to the work and completes its meaning through interpretation.”

It is this acceptance of the concept that we cannot—nor should we try to—tell any story in its entirety, and the subsequent embrace of the mind of the audience in co-creating our story that is the vital step we need to make if we are to truly resonate emotionally with our audience.