Storytelling – facts or fake news?

I spent a day this weekend listening to some brilliant and engaging storytelling at TEDx Kingston.

The theme was ‘out of order’ and it was a real celebration of difference – different views and perspectives on everything from gender to sharks to what makes real vs. fake news.

And it got me thinking about how much I’ve always loved storytelling.  As a child of the 70s and early 80s I grew up enthralled by Jackanory.  And I devoured books (something we all probably did more of pre-internet).

My life now as a brand marketing consultant is about helping brands tell their stories.  Celebrating their differences and articulating what they do simply by building a clear value proposition.  I’ve recently done a little storytelling about this on camera.

But does a story have to be true?  Or can it be ‘fake news’?

Well, if you’re creating the world of Harry Potter or any other fictional novel, then I’d argue it doesn’t have to be true.  Although to be believable, authors often create their own detailed world of truths based on well researched and plausible facts – something the British Library is celebrating about JK Rowling right now.

But for brands, just like for the people on stage at TEDx, your story needs to be true to who you really are, and who you serve.  A brand that tells a story or has a mission that doesn’t ring true with the reality of what their customers or employees experience, is ‘out of order’.  It’s the equivalent of a storyteller on stage who isn’t bringing themselves.

My advice for all brands is to focus on what you do well and don’t try to be what you’re not. And then tell that story.

Thank you to all the authentic storytellers at TEDx for their inspiration.