KEY TAKEAWAY #1:
Be Brave … and Let the Story Be the Hero
When Wright takes on a project like the one above, her job is to “manufacture heart.” But in order to capture hearts, you have to capture people’s humanity, which according to Wright, takes a conscious effort. So, how do you do that? Listening closely to the world around you will help you find great stories. In fact, Wright discussed her own practice of writing down subjects that have captivated her in a running list that she often revisits whenever she embarks on a new project. Based on the project, she selects subjects she thinks will be able to best convey that project’s particular story. The Compton Cowboys and HipletTM dancers were subjects on her active and ever-growing list.
Equally important to capturing hearts is considering what’s going to be impactful to the particular audience or audiences you’re trying to reach. In other words, listening to the “pulse” of the universe at that particular time, as Wright also explained.
Once you zero in on a story, you need to listen to the protagonist to better understand how to “best convey the complexities of their story.” Wright says, “you need to be listening to the nuance of the individual tale you are trying to tell” and this is true for both docu-style and scripted video.
Another key to brand storytelling that manufactures heart and does so authentically is removing product/service/brand placement altogether. Echoing a similar sentiment expressed by Jason Small from Verizon in his talk “The Neuroscience Behind Powerful Storytelling,” Wright urged marketers to step outside of their comfort zones and allow the story to be the hero—not the brand.
Wright expanded on this theme by saying, “I think you could capture an audience to [think] more highly of the [brand], which is the whole point of the endeavor, just as well, if not better, by just presenting [the viewer] with content they like and care about and that tugs at their heartstrings, and you don’t necessarily need any mention of [the product] in order to do that. You just need [the] logo to come in at the end.”
This may seem like too much of an ask for us marketers but here are two examples to support Wright’s thesis. These two competitors’ spots were in market at around the same time. I count eight references to the brand in the first one and only one in the second. Which of the two do you find more memorable?