Today, we kick off a new series to provide you with an intimate look into the hearts and minds of Ignite 360’s incredible ensemble of insights and strategy experts.
Aptly titled – What, How, and Why – our goal is to bring you into the fold of what we do, how we do it, and the why behind it all.
We begin with a story.
A story… about a storyteller.
Storytelling predates writing, with the earliest forms of storytelling usually oral. Combined with gestures and expressions, these narratives have been shared in every culture as a means of entertainment, education, cultural preservation, and instilling moral values.
When done right, stories harness the power of captivating characters, relatable plots, and authenticity which builds an emotional bridge needed to connect businesses with consumers.
But storytelling should be seen as more than just a sales tool. Businesses can use stories to get clients to better understand the company’s work, to connect employees to one another and to give a voice to those who don’t otherwise have one.
Easier said than done – that’s why we believe in Storyologists.
Stephanie Spencer, Storyologist, has been part of the Ignite 360 ensemble since the early days of the company. But what IS a Storyologist? What role does Stephanie play in our daily quest for actionable insights?
In Stephanie’s words…
Brené Brown talks about “/” careers as in I’m a designer/storyteller/researcher - you aren’t just one thing. I’d extend her idea and suggest that the same goes for a company – you may not always be one thing at a company. And I don’t mean that in the exhausting I-have-to-wear-many-hats kind of way. Rather, I think of Ignite 360’s culture as more of a millinery where I get to try on different hats – social media editor, graphic designer, storyteller. I work in an environment where I get to set new challenges for myself. The culture encourages innovation, curiosity, and exploration within, so we can bring the same to our clients.
So what do I do? I am a storyologist (a term my sister made up for me because existing titles didn’t fit – it’s a convergence of the academic research - ology with the story). I apply storytelling techniques like metaphor, repetition, and anecdotes to make our creative deliverables memorable and resonant.
As mentioned, not easy tasks. Memorable and resonant insights are the standard to which we measure all our projects. So how do you do that exactly? Every time? As Stephanie explains... experience lies at the heart of it:
At first blush, I think, I have no idea how I do what I do. I just do it, right? However, given a moment of quiet reflection, I realize there is a backstory to how I do it (because there’s always a backstory). My upbringing and liberal-arts education gave me my how. Both taught me to draw upon many disciplines to find inspiration. Writer William Plomer describes creativity as “the power to connect the seemingly unconnected.” That’s my how. I connect the seemingly unconnected. Metaphor is one of my favorite tools because it is so memorable and allows you to make those disparate connections (e.g. we’ve likened a dairy product to cellophane and meat bar consumers to Manifest Destiny).
An example of the how:
We had just wrapped a project with a major pet food company who wanted to understand the market around dental treats for cats. The project lead was about to hand the report off to Stephanie for PPT creation. The project lead hesitated, “There’s something not coming together. I want to talk through the learnings with you.” So, they got on the phone and waded through the multi-layered data and insights. After much discussion, they landed on the Big Idea – owners won’t buy dental treats unless they get a clear thumbs-up vote from their cat. Aha!
In addition to including the Big Idea in the report, Stephanie added a storytelling element. She suggested that they give the cat a voice in the presentation. Stephanie says, “Oral storytellers will often switch voices to represent different people within a story – we were doing the same thing but in a presentation. The Big Idea and storytelling technique bind the learnings together. It’s like making meatballs – you have to have eggs, otherwise the meatballs will fall apart.”
The WHY for Ignite 360 is evident and Stephanie explains it perfectly, “Stories matter to people. You can have all the data in the world about your consumer, but what really resonates is the human connection.”
The WHY for Stephanie is even grander:
“I believe that we, as individuals, live epic lives, every day. One doesn’t have to be a hobbit or Harry Potter (although that would be kind of amazing!) to have epic experiences in our lives. My why is that I love to show people that there are larger narrative forces at work.”
Within this blog post are 4 storytelling techniques. Did you spot them?
Metaphor – Ignite 360 is a millinery culture.
Asking questions within the text – Questions require your brain to switch off autopilot for a brief moment and engage with the text.
Anecdote from the field – Anecdotes allow you to remember a lot of data in a compact and memorable way. After reading this post you may not remember anything about me, but you may remember that cats have a voice in purchase decisions.
Simile – Reports are like meatballs, you need a binding agent otherwise they fall apart.