Story To Tell

Exploring the mechanisms of narrative

Anthropology, and the prevalence of mythology throughout cultural history tells us that people are born storytellers and story consumers. The desire to connect and form meaningful relationships with others and to understand the world around us is innate, and communicating through storytelling is more often than not how we achieve this.

“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world”

- Philip Pullman

But do all stories start with 'Once upon a time'? Should a tale be tall or small? Must a picture say a thousand words? The word 'story' can mean different things to different people; a good book or a telling photograph, a great movie scene or an overheard conversation, a meaningful object or an ancient cave painting. What these have in common is that they each communicate meaning or common values, whether to explain, entertain or inspire. We apply this way of thinking to the work we do for our clients. It's not just about creating something beautiful and well crafted - content shouldn't just be 'content for content's sake' - it's about creating content of value that communicates a client message in an understandable and relatable way, to connect to people more directly and transform the way they think and feel.

Storytelling is such a valued approach because it uses established systems of reference to allow us to articulate concepts and ideas in a recognisable way - a shared symbolic language, if you like. The job of the professional storyteller is to unearth, decipher, and explore these universal modes of expression, and to use them creatively so as to build meaningful artificial worlds that thoroughly engage people and allow them to understand and experience something new. Our aim is to make places and ideas feel real in the imagination of individuals through authentic, 'story rich' content, from animated tales to digital destinations. Quite often we look to the value of the story arc to achieve this level of engagement and emotional response, taking the “audience" on a journey that can be unfolded over time to build a meaningful experience.

“We've found a freer, collaborative approach that paves the way to innovation.”

With our passion for storytelling in mind, we regularly explore methods of generating stories as part of creative workshops we run in our studio. The workshops focus on narrative experimentation through things like word games, 'exquisite corpse', Thinkpak, and more general critical analysis of existing stories. The motivation behind this exploratory approach is to have fun, to put into practice the collaborative nature of creating, sharing and understanding stories, and to revel in the value of spontaneity and experimentation so as to open our imaginations up to new ways of thinking.

Generating and sharing stories collaboratively allows us to investigate the openness of interpretation, the impact of different personalities (each with their own personal histories, tastes, and so on), the numerous means available to tell stories that connect with people, and the scope to make stories as narrow and direct, or as open and subjective as you like. Through mixing things up, flipping them on their head, transforming, upending, manipulating and so on, we've found a freer, collaborative approach that paves the way to innovation! Each time we discover something new, some valuable human insight which feeds into our creative approach to client stories. This process of learning and play means we can continue to create better, richer, more meaningful content stories that help our clients really connect with, and inspire their audiences.


Michelle Collier

Date published

06 February 2014