Being Different while telling the Same Story

Illustration Red Riding Hood & Wolf

You don’t need a different story to your rivals.

You just need to make your story more engaging than theirs.

According to the Smithsonian, there are 58 versions of Little Red Riding Hood. Each no doubt having been told in many different visual styles.

A quick Google search provides 280,000 YouTube video results. 

So if a simple story about a young girl dressed in red being accosted by a wolf posing as her grandmother has that many videos on YouTube and for each to be different, your business story shouldn’t have a problem standing out from your competitors.

Provided your stories stand out, draw your audience in, are entertaining and memorable.

Telling stories supported with lots of images has historically had a bit of a “this is for kids” label attached to it.

Viz Magazine Pages

After all, Picture Comics are just for kids. Right?

Viz. A VERY adult magazine had, at its height, a circulation of around 1.2 million. You might also like to have a quick flick through some of the popular press on your local news stand and make an estimate as to how much costly ink has been invested in images rather than words.

Although print volumes have dropped, there is an online millennial community who search for and consume visually rich stories though specialist website sites such as Mangadex.

More significantly from a business perspective is that images have ownership rights. These rights offer a level of protection which words alone cannot match.

You therefore don’t need to have a unique set of words to describe and protect your business stories. You just need to make your audience familiar with an image or series of images which those words are then immediately associated with. 

These four name should support that logic -  Apple  -  Windows  -  Google  -  Coke ( So familiar, I don’t need to include them here. )

The success of each is such that a single icon is enough to remind you of their business offer.

Illustration Manga Comic Drawings

You need to have a long term mindset

Yet a strategy based only on investing in a single icon is unlikely to provide any short term benefit. 

It takes time and the stories you tell over time to cement the association of a single image with a name, its sector, its products, reputation and business ethos. Like any other solid growth plan, you just need to invest well and be patient.

Investing in high value visually rich stories should be seen as a longer term investment in your intellectual property based assets. 

Not as here today gone tomorrow disposable promotional content. 

It is also worth noting that recorded video works at its best for anything news worthy, visually interesting and either current or historical. Other than the latter it does date relatively quickly. 

So as the the world continues to rapidly change, recorded video can quickly look outdated.

Illustrated content however dates much less quickly over time. It has a much longer lifetime value provided the basis on which the content is created does not change. 

Screen Grab YouTube Videos

To illustrate the point, our production partners Airhead Animation were asked by an insolvency practitioner to help them describe the difference between being self employed and being a director of a company back in 2013. Their reason for doing so being that the subject was one which they found having to explain repeatedly to distressed new clients. 

It also made sense to extend this short animation into a much longer one which explains the whole business insolvency process in a series of simple steps. The client was already using a story to explain the process based on the analogy of what happens when someone gets ill then progressively more ill ending in death.

Their story was laced with both wit and real information about the whole process. The animation is as valid now as it was the day it was first published in spring 2014. This is what I refer to as CORE business content.

The client will continue to get value from that original investment until such time as the whole insolvency process changes.

Illustration Inside Robots Head

In Conclusion

My premise is that many established professional and technical services-based companies now find themselves surrounded by young aggressive rivals biting at their heels in an ever more crowded market place. These are often more able to take risks with their marketing as they have less to lose. 

They are also more attuned to new distribution methods, software and alternate working methods which are being used to undermine more established business models.

Few established businesses' yet see that there is one sure way of successfully countering these threats.

Many are probably already sitting on the means of stamping their supreme authority on their sector by being universally seen as being the most experienced expert in their field. 

The irony being that these story assets already reside deep within the fabric of their business.

They just haven’t realised this yet.

About the Author

I'm Sam Finlay, the founder of moreVisible and I originally trained as an Industrial Designer back in the early 80s. My career developed from technical illustration and visualising within the manufacturing sector, to design consultancy servicing high street retailers and brands, visualising future products, explaining how these would look or function for B2B presentations. Before moving my creative skills into online video & animation production for the digital economy in 2008.

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