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Are you telling overdog or underdog stories?

I attended a function recently and was introduced to a guy I hadn’t met before. He asked me what I did, and then cut me short and proceeded to spend 20 minutes telling me all about his wonderful life. How well his business was doing, his six-figure income that was...

Felix Baumgartner didn’t feel a thing

On the 14th of October 2012 Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner became the first skydiver to complete a free fall jump from the stratosphere back to earth. He used a helium balloon to ascend to an incredible 39km above the earth. On his descent he reached an...

Sweet and Salty Stories

I’m not a big popcorn eater but I do have a weakness for Sweet and Salty popcorn made by Sweet As Popcorn in Raglan, NZ. There’s something about the contrast of sweet and salty flavours and the way that they interact with my palate that I find intriguing and...

Forget storytelling and start storymaking!

Imagine for a moment, that you have invented something totally novel that will revolutionise the world. Your ‘Aha!’ moment has arrived. You can’t believe no one has thought of this thing! It’s going to be fantastic and life-changing! You spend months building the...

What can content marketers learn from Dr Seuss?

Dr Seuss, one of the world’s greatest storytellers, can teach us Thing One and Thing Two about inspired story-driven content marketing. “If you never did, you should. These things are fun and fun is good.” Don’t be afraid to try something new – it might be FUN....

Are customer stories the new case studies?

Content is the single most cost-effective way to project to the world who you are and what you do. So why are we still using boring old case studies as a means to propel business? We are evolutionarily wired for stories. Reading stories releases neurochemicals that...

Are you telling your story or leaving it to chance?

You’re telling a story whether you know it or not. It’s been said time and time again that we are wired for stories. From cavemen drawing on walls to stories passed verbally from generation to generation, it’s simply in our genes. Our brains like to process...

Has your content marketing lost the plot?

There are seven model plots on which all storytelling is based. Are you using one to tell an effective story?  No matter where we are from, we have shared points across cultures and histories that wire us to respond to one of seven basic plotlines. Using these...

How to elevate your content with storytelling

We all know that wading through the multitude of content on the internet can be tedious and mind-numbing. It is a crowded, noisy place. In the age where content is king, where facts are not enough to engage customers, how do you catch interest?...

Web design trends in 2018 – New Zealand

Web design is constantly changing from year to year. Here are some trends that are making it big in 2018. Hand-Drawn Fonts Just look on Instagram to see how viral custom hand-drawn fonts are becoming in recent months. These unique typefaces add character and charm as...

I’m not a big popcorn eater but I do have a weakness for Sweet and Salty popcorn made by Sweet As Popcorn in Raglan, NZ. There’s something about the contrast of sweet and salty flavours and the way that they interact with my palate that I find intriguing and addictive. If I’m settled in for the night watching Netflix, its very difficult to stop halfway through a bag once I start.

I’m also a keen follower of the food series MasterChef. One of the comments that judges often make on the show about contestant’s dishes is that they need to balance the flavours better. Balance the sweet and sour flavours, balance the hot and cool, balance the crispy and smooth textures and balance the acidity and alkalinity. It’s the balancing of all these elements that makes food taste great, and it’s the creative and unusual juxtaposition of these elements that makes food exceptional.

Great storytelling needs to follow the same principles. Many B2B brands make the mistake of creating stories that are sickly sweet, have no flavour profile and are not engaging or memorable. Brand stories that are full of bragging and promising, talking about how wonderful their brands are and how successful they have been over time. These types of stories don’t resonate because they are not authentic, and they have no inherent tension or drama to bring them to life.

Like my favourite sweet and salty popcorn, great stories need to juxtapose contrasting elements to make them interesting. Every story needs a hero and a villain, opposing forces, contrasting settings, highs and lows, and struggles and triumphs to bring it to life. The reality is stories need inherent tension to move the story forward and keep the viewers or listeners interested.

The famous novelist Charles Dickens understood this principle well. Here’s the opening paragraph from his iconic novel A Tale of Two Cities:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us…

Think about your favourite movies. Star Wars would not have been the same without the opposing characters of Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. Lord of the Rings would have been boring as hell without the treacherous journeys, opposing armies, battles, near death experiences and victories against the odds.

When you’re telling your brand story think about how you can use contrast and tension to really bring your narrative to life. Don’t just talk about your successes. Also talk about your failures. Identify the heroes and villains in your story. And add texture, colour and drama by setting your story in a rich, sensory world full of possibilities. At the end of the day it’s the delicate balance of the sweet and sour that creates depth of flavour.