Ideas well said are more important than tool fixation.
In 1977, I attended the inaugural screening of Star Wars – it was crazy, lines around the block. In its era George Lucas’ precedent setting, mind blowing space opera, epic sci-fi fantasy was a spellbinding experience. A marvelous departure in moviemaking and story telling that clearly made an indelible mark on popular culture. The magic was in its departure from anything that came before it. It broke new ground. Raised the bar. Technology worked in service of a story.
The latest installment I plan to see on its opening day, too. And I’m imagining a similar experience but with all the juice that technology now provides to make completely real what is make-believe. Oh yes, and now there’s Darth Vader’s dark-side dog chews at the pet store to ride that wave of cinematic notoriety.
Story in service of a technology…?
Star Wars was a highly creative product in an era when ideas and story telling were the core alchemy of leading edge marketing communications – before we became obsessed with applying digital tools and algorithms to media at the expense of better, more meaningful stories.
In this era creativity truly ruled the galaxy.
Star Wars is a story well told. Brands are now stories to be told. The chemistry of how that story is weaved in and around the arc of a compelling narrative, still matters greatly. Yet following the mass media apocalypse, we are obsessed these days with digital platforms, trying desperately to aggregate audiences when audiences politely refuse to aggregate.
The Internet’s unfathomable depth of content and distribution ubiquity has pushed the development of digital interventions. Most of them aimed at harnessing its ability to push communication from anywhere to anyone — while conventional media platforms wilt and fade alongside. Push-button solutions now arrive almost daily promising the ability to populate various digital and social channels with outbound content and measure digital footprints of engagement with same.
So we optimize and adjust what’s said in order then to optimize its ability to fit the designs and requirements of the spider crawling web.
- In the analog days, ideas, concepts, thinking, strategy formed the base ingredients that helped fashion brand reputations and usher in new players to business fortune and fame. Uniqueness, differentiation and boldness were required. They still are!
Media strategy had its role but the message was the important gambit. Not sausage- packed and compartmentalized into 140 word snacks or abbreviated as 10-second video bitty-bites that require a hash-tag or two to unearth their elusive audience.
Technology should sit in service of the story not the other way round.
- Brands are now publishers and we can’t think of anything more exciting than to have that direct communication link to those who buy.
However, what’s conveyed and how is another matter. Great content like a great book grabs the imagination and holds it briefly captive. Just as the product is the marketing these days so the story remains the instrument of connection.
The days of mass communication are over. And in its place a marvelous opportunity to build vertical communities of true fans.
But we have a responsibility as marketers not to lose sight of the real thing we human beings continue to hold dear: we love a story well told. Ideas form the grist of those great stories. Like water looking for a crack in the foundation after a storm, relevant and compelling storytelling will find an audience.
- The Force driving connectivity magic is not the algorithmic plumbing that sits underneath. Yes, digital tools are important. Yes, we work with them everyday. But they sit underneath the story – never over it.
Jedi storytellers know this and remain faithful to their ancient beliefs in the power of words, pictures and sound.
May The Force be with you 🙂
Bob Wheatley is the CEO of Chicago-based Emergent Healthy Living. Emergent provides integrated brand strategy, communications and insight solutions to national food, beverage, home and lifestyle companies. Emergent’s unique and proprietary transformation and growth focus helps organizations navigate, engage and leverage consumers’ desire for higher quality, healthier product or service experiences that mirror their desire for higher quality lifestyles. For more information, contact Bob@Emergent-Comm.com and follow on Twitter @BobWheatley.