When I first began working with the web, I was already deeply interested in storytelling and writing. I had written plays, had some poetry published and dabbled with short stories. But this “new” medium seemed to have something special.
There was a promise to it that seemed to speak to the way that I was already living my life—online, connected, fragmented.
But it took years for this to mature. And it took some serious innovation for these good ideas to come to maturity. Take video, for example. I was working with some of the big media agencies on digital streaming projects, and we were encountering big challenges—bandwidth, computing power, cost, and compression quality. So when YouTube arrived, it changed the game. It changed the game because it took the technology out of the process. Apple does the same with its products. Technology companies succeed when they focus on removing the barriers to participation. They succeed when they begin to take a different path—what I call The Social Way.
For the marketer who works in the social way:
- The brand is a means to an end. The brand exists, the people exist. We don’t need messaging, but a tune to dance to.
- Marketing is about bringing the brand to the people, not bringing the people to the brand.
- The glare of the logo is a distraction and a barrier to forming relationships. What we need is a name and a face, not a 12pt white space exclusion.
But what does this mean? What can be achieved?
Take a look at the Dear Sophie video from Google. I have been waiting to see something like this from Google forever. It could just be me, but this feels like a turning point in the way that they are telling their story—through the eyes of others. Sure, there is a technology story in here, but it’s not the story of our love affair with technology. It’s the love story of a father and his daughter. And it is a story that is yet to be fully told. There are more chapters. More angles. Heartaches and promises.
But I am also excited by the fact that this story is being told by Google in this way. It’s like a guide that we can all learn from. Think about your own business. How can you tell your social story in this way? How do you move beyond the benefits? How do you articulate the experience that is beyond words? If Google can get emotional, so can you and your brand. It’s time for us all to change the game.