Once a month Kennisland invites speakers who engage with us on subjects with a (thematic) connection with our work, interests or something we are just curious about. The KL Cocktail provides an opportunity to meet and bring together people in our diverse network, and drink cocktails.
In May, we invited John Weich to talk about his experience in the field of storytelling. For the past two decades John has worked in both editing and advertising. He has been a senior editor for global magazines like Wallpaper, 34 and ArtReview, he was storyteller for labels like Starbucks, Nike, Heineken and Adidas, and creative director of Amsterdam agency Lemon Scented Tea.
In his talk John led us through his experience in storytelling, emphasising the need for authenticity. His number one rule is ‘don’t ever lie’: you have to believe the story you are telling as a brand. That does not necessarily mean that the story has to be accurate, it means you need to be able to stand by it. This is the case for brands who use characters that personify the brand. For example, the hippie origins of ice-cream multinational Ben & Jerry’s. Nobody knows how hippie they actually were, but the story stuck and they stand by it.
A second interesting point he made was the lack of necessity for originality: ‘Originality is expensive, and very difficult’. All stories are more or less a slight adaption of an age-old story. Think of the numerous boy meets girl stories in romantic comedies – a story does not have to be original to be successful. A way to be original is to hire well-known artists to create an advertisement for your brand. It will be original, but it will be very expensive and you have to give a free rein to the artist, which means risk.
During the discussion after John’s talk most of the questions were about the issue of authenticity and truth. These are also important topics in our line of work. Kimon noticed a shift from the use of metrics in commercials towards a more emotional story-based perspective. John argued that metrics can, and perhaps should be used (if possible) to base a story on. Stories then act as the emotional framework to bind and attract people. You do not need metrics to create a good story, but they do form a firm base for your case.
Many thanks to John, for a very interesting evening. If you want to know more about his work and ideas, read his book called Storytelling on Steroids.
You can view the photo’s of the evening here.