Real storytelling isn’t spin

Photo credit: Kathleen Tyler Conklin

Photo credit: Kathleen Tyler Conklin

The term ‘storytelling’ is becoming a bit of a buzzword. Sometimes it’s used in place of ‘branding,’ or ‘PR spin,’ or plain old ‘bullshit’.

A recent article in the Guardian brought to light the difference between authentic storytelling and bull – or rather, buffalo - shit.

In  “It’s time to stop romaticising where our food comes from” we learn about an organic Italian buffalo farm known for producing prized milk. Apparently the farm is full of contradictions. Traditional in some ways, yet incredibly modern and efficient in others, the farm disrupts romantic notions of free grazing animals on rolling hills. It's counter to the story we've been sold.

The real story is more complex and challenging than the humble, idyllic farm you’re used to seeing on milk cartons or packets of pre-wrapped meat. The real story reveals a farmer who is both craftsperson and innovator; who practices respectful animal husbandry alongside savvy business techniques; who is caring yet financially driven.

The real story is harder to tell. Perhaps it’s also harder to sell.

Or perhaps not.

A good storyteller doesn’t rely on clichés. Brands don’t stand out by selling the same image customers have already digested over and over again. The old farm image is getting stale. And as customers get wiser, more curious, more capable at navigating brand spin, the tired, simplified image of the 1950s red-barn-and-farmer-Joe is going the way of sour milk: down the drain.

If your story is good, tell it. Don’t let a ‘brand expert’ bully you into repeating the same image that’s been bought and sold to death.

Customers want to buy from you… if you’re brave enough to show them who you are.

Camille DePutter