In our last blog post, Steve wrote a line that sparked some good conversation over here at the Running Robot world headquarters. He wrote…

“If people have a choice between a company/organization with a clear, well-told story and messaging, why would they bother with one that doesn’t have those?”

The debate… In that situation, do we even have a choice?

When being spoken or appealed to, can we choose to have more interest in the appeal without a story, or will we always find story more inherently interesting?  I don’t think we have a choice. I think our interests will always follow a good story. We can’t help it.

Like when you’re at a restaurant and you over hear someone say something that sucks you in instantly and you neglect your companions to find out how it resolves. Something like this completely true series of statements that our brother, Doug, ACTUALLY overheard…

YOUNG WOMAN 1: We should take a road trip to Hawaii!
YOUNG WOMAN 2: You idiot, we can’t drive to Hawaii! We don’t have a car!

So many questions! What would the response had been if they had a car? How do they not know you can’t drive to Hawaii? Will they ever get a car? Are all their other friends that oblivious? What’s going to happen to them in this world? How will they survive?? I want to know!
Story is how we communicate as a species. It’s how we’ve always communicated. Fables and parables is how information was passed down for centuries. Before we could write or record our learnings, we relied on stories as a means of passing down tradition and knowledge. We’re genetically predisposed to receive and retain information through stories.

In today’s society, we’re consumed with facts possibly because we have all known information at our fingertips. What time is it? How long will it take me to get somewhere? What’s the temperature today? As if knowing the exact degree of temp is going to affect us at all. We’ve become hyper-focused on the who, what, where, and when of life and we’ve become lazy on the WHY. The WHY is the most important part.

WHY is what impacts us and what spurs us to action. We need to communicate the why in everything we do.

Sure, we can listen to facts and process sterile information; we absolutely have that capacity. And we may even be able to retain that information for a short period of time. It’s how a vast majority of us made it through the educational system and even got degrees. It’s also why a vast majority of us can’t really remember anything academic from our time in school. When I think back to the lessons I learned in high school, college, and graduate school, the things that stick with me the most are always the experiential moments and especially the moments that have emotional ties. I can still tell you quite a bit about World War II thanks to Mr. King’s lectures in high school because he made it relevant and real.

It occurs to me that I’ve spent thousands of dollars on textbooks and I’ve only read hundreds of pages from those books (I always hated the reading assignments…) and I can’t tell you one valuable piece of information I’ve retained from those books. Data just doesn’t stick. That is unless it has heart or meaning attached to it. And when it does, its usually a story. See what I’m saying here?

Stories are so powerful that we rarely forget a good story when its told to us. Why is that? Well told stories engage us intellectually, emotionally, and sometimes even physically. They can illustrate points and make lessons unforgettable in the case of parables and fables because they engage us on multiple levels. When we fuse our intellect with our emotion we create new feelings, new experiences, and lasting memories. Holistic engagement.

Stories also stick with us because our minds are trained to learn from new experiences. Perhaps that’s a survival mechanism from our early ancestors, but regardless, stories are the best way to create those new experiences and unforgettable moments.

So, if we’re faced with a company with a well told message and a company without, I don’t think we have the ability to choose which we’ll go with. Story wins every time.

If you want to make sure that people won’t forget your message, your product, or your brand as soon as they walk away, contact us.