The benefits of experiential storytelling
1. Let’s your Audience Experience it
One of the biggest benefits of storytelling in experiential design is the ability to create a special moment. A recent example of this was John Legend and Common’s performance at the 2015 Academy Awards. Through experiential design, large-scale props were incorporated with digital technology to create a powerful setting. Viewers were instantly transported to the bridge in Selma, Alabama where one of the most important moments of the 1960’s civil rights movement took place. Thematic music and projected images displayed across the expansive stage became reminders of injustice, the price of freedom, and the need for equality. The totality of the song, space, and imagery created a powerful experience, one that moved many in the celebrity-filled audience to tears.
This is the power of experiential design in storytelling: Don’t just tell the story. Show the story.
Storytelling Must Include Story Showing
There truly is an important contribution that showing makes to the art of storytelling. Surprisingly, the concept of show, don’t tell, is something that the digital signage industry has particularly struggled with. Perhaps you have seen displays filled with content that requires far more reading than viewing, and far more interpretation than intuition. We must never be afraid to show the story—audiences are smart and their imaginations powerful. So look for every opportunity to use imagery and video that is visually gripping, expresses your message, is appropriate to the setting, creates a climax, and moves people to action.
2. Makes The Emotional Connection That Moves Your Audience to Participate in the Story
By showing a brand’s story, an emotional connection can be made. Depending on the nature of a brand’s business, storytelling inserts an influential human element. At the end of the day, it’s not really about business-to-business or business-to-consumers, but rather business-to-humans.
Here are some examples that use the power of storytelling to turn business facts into brand building moments:
Business Fact: Our new smart phone is a modern hardware device with leading software functionality.
Brand Story: Our new smart phone is the best way to stay connected with the ones you love.
Business Fact: Our diamonds have the best cut, clarity, and color.
Brand Story: Our diamonds help you say, “I love you” every day for the rest of your lives together.
Business Fact: Our Italian recipes are authentic—straight from the towns of Italy.
Brand Story: Our dishes are secret recipes, carefully handed down from generation to generation; from grandma’s kitchen to your table.
As you can see, an emotional connection is more effectively made by showing the story rather than stating pure business facts; and with that emotional connection comes the opportunity to endear an audience to the client’s brand.
When a person’s affinity for a brand grows, it becomes increasingly likely that their loyalty will grow with it. They, in essence, become part of the brand’s story testifying to its value through online reviews, personal referrals, recommendations, or social media mentions. And with interactive technologies, mobile devices, and wearable technology, the ability for people to become part of the story has never been easier.
3. Integrate Content, Space, and Digital Devices Seamlessly to Tell the Story
Technology has become extremely flexible and can now be seamlessly integrated into physical spaces. This is an important reality as it’s now possible to deliver branded content in unique and innovative ways. Content can now feel like a natural part of the space, connecting people to place with methods that are far more organic.
The Relation to Storytelling
When technology is less obtrusive and naturally bleeds into its surroundings, people are immediately open to engagement, inviting brands to take them on a journey. This lies, of course, in stark contrast to the experience we’ve all had when encountering a single display hanging on a wall and displaying the typical news feed, stock ticker, and presentation deck slide. By strategically integrating content and technology, the physical space can be turned into a powerful part of your brand’s story.
Storytelling is a powerful art as old as the beginning of civilization. When done correctly with today’s digital technology and experiential design, it can effectively express a client’s brand message and form an unparalleled connection with their intended audience. So with your next project, instead of asking, “What’s involved?” perhaps you could simply ask, “What’s the story here?”