I think the best stories always end up being about the people rather than the event, which is to say character-driven. – Stephen King
Storytelling – I Have a Tale to Tell…
Storytelling. Contrary to what you believe you have a story to tell. A tale. A captivating account of your experiences others may want to draw an inspiration from. For thousands of years, storytelling was used to educate, entertain, provide the moral compass and preserve cultural integrity in every society. The oldest examples of storytelling are cave paintings dating back to 38 000 BCE. The years had passed. Humans evolved, both emotionally and intellectually, and the storytelling medium has been adapted to reflect these changes. But what’s the point even thinking about it? We tell stories – so what? Everyone has got a story to tell, right? Why would anyone want to listen to my story, when there are so many inspirational ones out there!
Your Story Belongs to You
To make people trust you they need to understand you first. We all have heard inspirational stories of people who beat the odds and came out stronger on the other side. One of my favourite examples is the story of Sylvester Stallone… Here’s the story.
Back in 1975, a completely unknown actor, Sylvester Stallone, has written one of the best-known underdog stories of our times – “Rocky”. Overnight Stallone has become a Hollywood sensation but not before enduring some serious hardship. According to sources, at the time of writing the script, Mr Stallone had worked some odd part-time jobs, his wife was pregnant and one afternoon they had found themselves having only $106 and no money to pay the rent. This has prompted Sylvester Stallone to sell their beloved family pet, a bull mastiff called Butkus. In act of desperation, the future star sold Butkus for $50 to a man called Little Jimmy. This was a breaking point for Stallone. Within 3.5 days he put some serious work into the script he’s been working on and ended up finalising the amazing story of passions, sportsmanship, and love for boxing. He then approached United Artists and said, he will only sell the script if he’s allowed to star in the movie. And UA agreed. Allegedly, Stallone got paid peanuts for the script. $18000 to $35000 – depending on the source. Still, it was enough to buy Butkus back and the rest is history.
Why is this story so great?
It’s very relatable. Think – how many times have you been questioning your worth? Working yourself to the ground with little to no results? This story gives hope. It’s pretty inspirational. And most of all – it shows that even Hollywood A-lister, such as Sylvester Stallone, had to do something he’s not proud of to secure a better future for himself and his family. This kind of story, although a bit far fetched, will make understand what you’re about.
Behind Every Great Brand, There’s a Great Story
Let’s take a look at IKEA and its founder – Ingvar Kamprad. A dyslexic man from the small village in Sweden who despite his limitations grew one of the best-known brands in the world. His story is a powerful one, too!
From the very early age, Kamprad was interested in business. He had very quickly learned that he could cheaply buy matches in bulk, then sell them individually and still make a profit. As a young boy, he discovered the value of resell by selling berries and fish to his neighbours. Next came hand-made Christmas cards…
At the age of 17 Kamprad had already known the value of a good business deal therefore when his father awarded him with a small sum of money for doing well in school, he decided to start a proper company which he called IKEA. Initially, it was a small mail-order operation selling low value products, such as wallets, picture frames, and, then a novelty, ballpoint pens. But this wasn’t enough for the young businessman. He wanted to conquer the local furniture market. Initially shunned by other furniture companies in the region, he had earned their respect after accidentally stumbling upon the idea that revolutionised the world of modern furnishing. Upon taking legs of a table to fit it in the car, it occurred to him that customers can conveniently put the furniture together in the quiet of their own homes.The list of benefits was endless. Lower manufacturing cost meant lower retail prices. Convenient flat-packs meant easier and cheaper delivery to the client. And the rest is history…
Perhaps another important bit of Ingvar Kamprad’s story is that despite his fortune, he’s incredibly down to earth and modest. It’s been reported that he travels economy class and drives an old Volvo. The story lives on.
What can you learn from the IKEA story? How can you maximise your branding potential with a good piece of storytelling? Do you know who could benefit from it?
Do You Know Your Story?
What is your story telling your audience? Your story doesn’t need to be a “rags to riches” kind of tale. It doesn’t have to be a story of survival, endurance or adversity. As long as it’s a story you’re comfortable telling and you feel it may be of value to at least on person in the room – tell it. It’s also a great content marketing exercise! Your brand will become stronger when your audience connects with it on the human level. This is why Richard Branson entwines his personal branding with his story of dyslexia and hatred for ties. Do you know your story?