What Color Has Your Story?

When was the last time, you thought about "color"? When your child ask you about your favorite color? Or when you thought about coloring the white walls of your home, as this seems to be the latest trend now? Or did color strike you in the last meeting with your marketing agency when they mentioned that the 30 year old logo of your company needs some polishing?

Color your Communication
Have you every thought about the importance of color for communication? And even more: for Storytelling? If not you definitely should have a look into Lewis Bond´s video "Color in Storytelling" - and you will see. Bond presents a wonderful collage of movies and films which all work so powerful with color. And he explains in a brilliant way why you should care about the hue, saturation and value of each color in your next story.

I am not talking about Hollywood. I am talking about Corporate Communication, Corporate Storytelling and Corporate Film. PR-Experts and marketing manager definitely have to learn more about the elements of a good story - visual story. And color is one of the areas to improve here. Here some examples:

Color helps the audience to immerge into your story

Ok, for a color brand like Dulux it seems easy to tell stories with the power of colors. But is it really that easy? With the story "Colourless Future" Dulux definitely presents its brand as a visionary visual storyteller with the courage to compete against Hollywood. The Science Fiction story fascinates its audience with a the cruel vision of a world where White is the dominating color and all other colors are banned or have to go "underground". Have a look how the future of color may look like - a great story by Dulux: "Colorless Future."

Color evokes emotions

To promote its new product Japanese cosmetic brand Lux hacked Google Maps and allowed its consumers with an App to paint any street or location on Google Maps in Pink - colored with a beautiful cherry blossoms bloom. Which color is better than pink to evoke the emotion of calmness and pleasure - like Lux perfumes.

Color supports our message

It´s not by coincidence that the main color of the award winning campaign "Tree concert Berlin" is green. Berlin is a green city. But everyday it loses 2000 trees which are affected by the polution of the city. To safe these trees the NGO "Friends of the Earth Germany" with the help of BBDO and Ketchum Pleon came up with the donation program "Tree Concert". Have a look into the case study of this program and see how the color supports the big idea and the key message of the whole campaign.

Color is a beast
It´s save to say that color is a very complex beast." - this are the words of graphic artist Mark D. West in his book "Stories that Move Mountains" who explains in detail how meaningful color in different cultures can be and how cultural sensitive Visual Storytellers have to be by using a specific color. But it´s not only the cultural contect - Eastern or Western  - which makes it complicated. It´s the usage, meaning and association of the color itself - in any culture.

Just take Red
The color Red stands for blood, danger and anger (see also the color of the character "Anger" in Pixars latest movie "Inside Out"). But it also stands for fire, warmth, passion and love. Visual Storytelling and the smart usage of color is more than just a checklist of associations and a fixed code of meanings. Every story needs its unique context and its own color code. So most important of all is that we - in marketing and PR - start to dive into the tool box of Visual Storytelling, become more sensible about each of its tools and learn how to use them. So: What´s the color of your next story?


The most relevant stories

"The most relevant stories connect on a personal level," this are the words of Beth Comstock, head of marketing and innovation of GE. And  she convesses claims, that in a world where more machines are talking, more people are talking, in a world where we are bombarded with information, simplicity is the key to success - and stories make our conversations much easier. Especially for companies with complicated products and services who want to be memorable and easy to understand. Whatch her talk on Corporate Storytelling at Future of Storytelling on Vimeo.


Storyful - Storyfy - Storytoolz - Storybird -Storyteller - Storybuilder ... Stooooop it!

Yes, it looks like we´ve got it. We´ve got this Storytelling trend or how ever you call it.
Just to pick a few:
If you search for stories you can work with

Storyful – Robert Murdochs teams promise you the "Powers Great Storytelling". If you want "the web tell a story" you should go to Storyfy. If you are an author and searches for better ressources (well ... ) go to Storytoolz. If you look for "visual storytelling for everyone" go to Storybird. There are agencies which call themselve Stories-Unlimited. And there are tools which call themselve somehow with "Story" such as Storyteller (a tool for journalists) or Storybuilder (a platform to build and share stories). There is Adobe Story (software to write scripts), Google Story Builder (a tool to create docs stories) and Amazon Storyteller (a tool to visualize your movie script). 
Ups ... and I forgot to mention Storymaps, where you can tell stories with maps.

But before you start search for stories at places such as Facebook StoriesGreen Kitchen Stories or Fat People Stories. And you want to learn from other stories so have a look into Microsoft Stories, Google Stories, Nutella Stories, Fiat 500 Urban Stories or Mazda Stories

And finally you may want to step into a story? No problem. Visit Story and &Other Stories.

Storytelling is great. But you don´t have to call it "St....".


The Endless Story: Storytelling in Games is different

We should acknowledge that storytelling in games can be slightly different and has to in contrast to novels or movies. In our enthusiasm about Joseph Campbells world-formular "the Hero´s Journey" we might forget that not every plot of a computergame follows his rules and there are good reasons.

Douglas Rushkoff alerted us in his book Present Shock  about the "Narrative Colaps". The end of linear stories in the 21st century. Why? Well, since the 50s remote control has teached us how to interrupt tv shows, to jump from channel to channel and from story to story. We got used to switch from plot to plot and learned to anticipate story lines. Today it looks like that we´ve overcome  Aristotle´s plot structure or Gustav Freytag´s dramatic arch or pyramid. Are we bored about this old paradigm? Have we seen and heard to much?

In fact modern stories in social media and games seem to be just the opposite of traditional storytelling. In traditional storytelling we hang on a story as long as possible, we follow the hero through his journey, his call for adventure, his quests and trials and we can´t wait to come to the end. We read a book as quick as possible to find out how the hero´s journey might end, to learn how the hero will cope with all the mess and how he will return to his old world. Whether it´s a happy or a bad ending.

Storytelling in games is different. Joseph Campbell´s Hero´s Journey get´s a slight different interpretation and what´s key is the different exposure of the "ending" of a story. While in traditional storytelling the recipient wants to know the resolution of the end as soon as possible, the gamer in contrast wants to avoid the end as long as possible. The principle of a modern game is NOT to come to an end. A principle which Rushkoff calls the "endless story" - somehow described by Michael Ende in his novel "Neverending Story" but even better analysed by James Carse in his theory about "Finite and Infinite Games". And that´s just one difference between traditional and modern storytelling. The team of Extra Credits is doing a great job in explaining how the Hero´s Journey is still a useful concept to explain Video- and Computergames but Game-developer see Joseph Campbell´s theory more as a a framework than a rule. Two videos explain the differences: Part 1 - Part 2.


Every good story needs a reason to be told

"The process of developing a story is one of discovery," Pete (Doctor, director of the movie `Mosters, Inc.´) says. "However, there´s alway a guiding principle that leads you as you go down the various roads. In Monsters, Inc., all of our very different plots shared a common feeling - the bittersweet goodbye you feel once a probelm" - in this case, Sulley´s quest to return Boo to her own world - "has been solved." -
I took this quote from Ed Catmulls wonderful book Creativity Inc. as it describes so brilliant what every good story needs to have: a reason to be told. No matter what the plot gonna be or how often you change your characters or the end of your story, you always should know - from the start you work on a story - what your "Reason Why", your higher purpose, your believe is, your story should stand for.
There is no one better to explain this "Reason Why" than Simon Sinek in his famous TED Talk about "How great leaders inspire action". He decoded a formula which even helps storytellers to start best with their story. Be defining the Why (storyline), the How (hero´s journey) and the What (plot).


The "Ultimative Book-List" on Storytelling

People ask me very often: "What do you read? Which book was most inspiring about storytelling?". So I thought about the "ultimate book-list". For today it´s this (but you never know the future will bring):

  1. McKee, Robert: Story. Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting. Methuen 1999.
  2. Sinek, Simon: Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. Penguin Group 2009.
  3. Catmull, Ed: Creativity, Inc. Random House 2014.
  4. Campbell Joseph: The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Pantheon Books 1949.
  5. Rushkoff, Douglas: Present Shock – When Everything Happens Now. Orange Press 2014.
  6. Gottschall, Jonathan: The Storytelling Animal. How Stories make us Human. First Mariner Books 2012.
  7. Denning, Steve: The Leader´s Guide to Storytelling. John Wiley & Sons Inc. 2011.
  8. Field, Syd: Screenplay. The Foundations of Screenwriting. Delta Book 2005.
  9. Fuoti, Julie / Johnson, Lisa: Story Juice. How Ideas Spread and Brands Grow. Grapevine Group 2012.
  10. Flath, Herbert: Storytelling im Journalismus. Formen und Wirkung narrativer Berichterstattung. Dissertation TU Illmenau 2012.
  11. Heath, Chip / Heath, Dan: Made to Stick. Random House 2010.
  12.  Berkun, Scott: Mindfire. Big Ideas for Curious minds. Scott Berkun 2011.
  13. Kelley, Tom / Kelley, David: Creative Confidence. Crown Business 2013.
  14. Lotter, Wolf: Die kreative Revolution. Was kommt nach dem Industriekapitalismus? Murmann Verlag 2009.
  15.  Latitude: The Future of Storytelling. http://futureofstorytellingproject.com.