Have you ever watched a movie or a series that had a multi-million special effects budget, a star-studded cast, lots of high-octane fight scenes and yet somehow still fell a bit short?
Don’t fret, you’re not alone. We too, have watched the entire Transformers series.
Given that so much of our lives are spent telling and listening to stories, it should come as no surprise that we all know a good story when we hear one. And what are movies but a slightly more sophisticated version of the oral tradition?
And this is precisely why storytelling remains relevant. There are so many stories floating around the public space that it has become really hard for anyone story to stand out. All stories should have a beginning, a middle and an end; but how you bring them together – now that’s storytelling.
Storytelling through Pixar’s eyes
According to Emmy award-winning writer and producer Kate Wright, stories are great only if they can transcend simple truths that pose as a reflection of the poetic and nuanced dimensions of the human soul.
What we take this to mean is that a good story should move you.
As one of the most prestigious animation house, Pixar does this exceptionally well. Acclaimed Pixar director Pete Docter states that effective storytelling boils down to the expression of relatable human emotions. It isn’t about an event or a situation; it’s all about feelings.
We see this in Pixar’s short animated story, Bao. This is a seven-and-a-half minute short story about an ageing mother who is suffering from empty-nest syndrome. To help her cope with her son moving out, she creates a dumpling to mother.
This movie captures the bittersweet cycle that all parents have to go through – raising their dependent children to fend for themselves before coming to terms with the fact that their children no longer need them.
In most cultures, food is often the medium used to express love and care for another. Food and family go hand-in-hand, which adds an additional layer of nuance to the film.
‘Bao’ is also a homophone for treasure in Chinese. This meaning is important as it goes to show the lengths at which the mother is willing to go to protect her child.
Heartwarming as it is, Baois also a testament to the unconventional ideas and storylines that Pixar is famous for.
As with the nature of animation, the team at Pixar do not confine themselves and their stories within the realms of everyday physics and reality. They promote wonder and imagination, posing “what if” statements and embracing the absurdity of each idea.
This attitude gave rise to the first critically acclaimed movie that garnered a cult following and three sequels: Toy Story.
Compare these two movies to The Emoji Movie;arguably one of the worst animated films to have debuted in the last decade. This movie scored 7 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and won 4 awards in the 38thGolden Raspberry Awards: Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst Screen Combo and Worst Screenplay. Yikes.
We follow Gene; a multi-expressional emoji that goes on a quest to become a normal meh emoji just like his parents.
If done well, The Emoji Movie might have rivalled Toy Story and The Lego Movie as another story that explored a world paralleled to what we know.
But alas, it didn’t quite hit the mark. It failed to relate to the general public with its shallow characterisation, uncompelling performances and humour that didn’t quite work.
Storytelling as the Foundation of Marketing
We’ve talked about animation and what makes storytelling good. You might be wondering what this has to do with your product.
In the simplest terms, your brand is your story and marketing is how you tell it.
Your brand has a story to tell, and marketing is the process by which you package your brand to the audience. Every interaction you have with the public – be it the copy you write, the personalities you identify with and most importantly the videos you produce – these are the building blocks that your potential clients will turn to when figuring out who you are and what you stand for.
There will never be a definitive standalone advertisement that will capture who you are – above all, storytelling is a 2-way process that is continually unfolding. Most importantly, people remember the way brands make them feel.
And that’s exactly what your story-telling should be consistent about.
Take, for example, this PUB advertisement. The message is ostensibly about the conservation of water. But filtered through the metaphor of water as kinship, the audience is left with an affective takeaway – one that turns water into a precious resource that should be squandered.
We might not remember how we arrived at this conclusion, but thanks to the impact of the advertisement, we’ll definitely remember it.
What makes storytelling a powerful technique is its ability to create an emotional attachment between the consumer and the brand. This relationship is the foundation upon which brand loyalty is created.
With the introduction of colorful and engaging characters, your brand acquires relatability and a personality.
An animated story takes this a bit further with the addition of attractive visuals and icons. This makes your product relatable – not only for adults but also for children.
But mark our words when we say that storytelling isn’t enough; it’s blending the right animation styles together that will help you to reach a bigger audience. 3D animation, motion graphics and even visual effects will all come in at this point.
Do this correctly, and your viewers are in for a treat.
Take, for instance, this animated Heinz’s New Baked Beans Advertisement. While the product is loud and clear – Heinz’s New Baked Beans – at its heart, this is a story about the act of falling in love and creating a family. This is a sentiment that anyone of us can relate to.
The next step
As much attention should be paid to the product messaging as the product, if the recent E-pay brownface fiasco is any warning.
Prioritizing one over the other is not the solution as both message and product influence the audience’s perception of both your product and brand.
With that said, it is easier said than done. To come up with complex storytelling that not only supports your objective but cements its sentiments deep in the hearts of your audience sounds overwhelming. But if you don’t start, you’re not going to get anywhere at all.
So engage an exceptional company with animation services, start with a “what if…” statement and good things should follow!