Daniel Zeff and Amy Lavalette of Evidently believe that children’s bedtime reading holds the key to succinct, resonant storytelling. After all, surely if you can capture the imagination of a four year old, you can do anything. Here are eight things Daniel and Amy learned that brands can benefit from when it comes to getting and keeping the attention of consumers – because the real test of stories isn’t in the telling, but in the retelling.
A beginning, a surprise, and an end
Most stories have very simple narrative structures, with a simple hook or twist that makes us pause, smile, or even jump, and ensures we will stay until the end of the tale.
Same same, but different
Familiarity, it seems, breeds contentment. Children and consumers alike enjoy seeing a familiar character or story being reimagined in a new way, or taking something rather mundane and transporting it into an impossible scenario.
Instantly establishes its own reality
All of the best stories do away with lengthy, boring exposition, and just focus on entertaining us. By extension, we, the reader, instantly accept the reality we are presented with, even if on the surface it doesn’t entirely make sense.
Truth to the very core
Storytelling is embedded in the human experience – it’s how we learn and understand new things. Even the simplest story can convey a powerful message.
A constantly evolving medium
Children’s books play with texture, size, pop-outs, illustrations, and even electronics. By simply drilling a hole in some cardboard and giving children the ability to play a character using just their finger, Eric Carle made his book, The Hungry Caterpillar, a classic.
A single, shared experience
A bedtime story needs to be enjoyed by both the parent and the child; for that to happen, it needs to elicit a response on more than one level. A book with layers, like The Giving Tree, is likely to be read in a very different way by the parent, than it is by the child. This is essential to brands who want to speak to lots of different audiences at the same time.
Responding is irresistible
Two way communication is another commonality between bedtime stories and branded content. In both cases, we are asking; how do we get the audience involved? Great stories compel us to repeat, engage, and interact.
There is something special about poetry as a medium; when read aloud, it can be soothing, funny, and make us think in new ways. Through assonance, alliteration, and rhyme, authors like Dr Seuss tell beautiful, poetic stories with a message.