What does it mean to be a good storyteller?

Today is World Book Day – a celebration and promotion of some of the greatest authors to hit our shelves over the years. We highlight three of our favourite storytellers who have captured our imaginations since childhood, and discuss what it means to be a good one.

 It’s a truth universally acknowledged that the best stories stay with us forever. World Book Day, now in its twentieth year, is a testament to how these stories continue to delight and entertain us.

But what is good storytelling, and what lessons can brands learn from some of the best out there?

“Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic”: J.K. Rowling

Despite the odd report that the young generation of today are slaves to their mobiles and TV screens, the fact that school children across the country will still be taking part in various activities to honour their favourite books is a testament that magic still lives on the page.

J.K. Rowling stands out as a great example when talking about the power of the written word. This year marks the twentieth anniversary since ‘The Philosopher’s Stone’ hit our shelves, and since then the series has gone on to sell over 400 million copies worldwide, and been translated into 68 languages. The Harry Potter series are proof that a strong vision, captivating narrative, and stories with longevity can be extremely powerful.

“I dream for a living”: Steven Spielberg

Yet great storytelling is not just limited to books. The 89th Academy Awards that took place last Sunday are a prime example of how the best stories can make a dazzling impact on the big screen.

The best directors are those that can take the creative vision in their head and turn it into visual content that bring in big audiences and achieve global recognition. Look no further than Steven Spielberg. He has a tremendous ability to take a great narrative and translate it into compelling feature films, and his three Academy Awards and 13 nominations certainly bear this out.

Many film directors like Spielberg take their greatest inspiration from works of literature, to great success. Just think of Jaws, Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List, The Colour Purple, to name but a few. However, rarely does this involve a straight up replica from page to screen. While telling the same story, the best adaptions are those where you may have the same underlying narrative, which has been adapted creatively to make the most of the appropriate platform.

“The times they are a changin’…”: Bob Dylan

When the Nobel Prize for Literature, one of the ultimate accolades for authors, was awarded to legendary musician Bob Dylan just last year, not everyone was thrilled. But his power in crafting brilliant tales told through song is a further example that storytelling is not just limited to books.

As the voice of his generation for over five decades, one of Dylan’s most famous songs The Times They are a Changin’ was released back in 1964. While expressing the vast social changes experienced in the 1960s, the song is just as well recognised across the ages – showing that authenticity makes content stand the test of time.

The times are also changing with how we consume content, but the challenge remains in getting your audience to listen. Mobile and social have opened up a direct, always-on gateway from brands to individuals, but they’ve also intensified the need for more quality; with so much content to contend with, only the best will cut through.

That’s precisely our approach at Brands2Life. We strongly believe every brand has a great story to tell, and everything we do circles back to finding the best narrative, medium and tactic so our clients’ stories have the best possible impact.

Vicky from our Business & Technology team