Storytelling: A Tale as Old as Time


Storytelling is as old as the drawings in Lascaux cave —I saw a bison, I chased the bison, I brought that bison down like a sweet cupcake—told in three tidy pictograms by some ancient caveman. The hunter was victorious that day and wanted his caveman buddies to admire him, and perhaps to hire him as a consultant on their next bison hunt. “THAT guy really knows how to land a bison,” they no doubt said.

Storytelling is no different today—we just have had a few upgrades to our tools and no longer have to rely on a burnt stick with some pigment on it. Lucky for us, we live in a time when we all carry around great storytelling tools in our pockets and backpacks. It has never been easier to tell a visual story, and let’s face it, just like that cave drawing, a picture is worth a thousand words–it’s a cliche for a reason, people!

Humans have a strong biological desire to express themselves, to tell their stories, and if you think about it, storytelling becomes the basis of just about everything we do as a species. The way we choose to dress in the morning tells the story of who we are just as surely as does our actual life narrative.

Large businesses use sophisticated storytelling to position themselves in the sweet spot between naked pitching and a sublime alignment with their customers wants and needs. Smaller businesses on an upward trajectory have an even greater need to tell a compelling story that shows what’s different between them and their competitors. “We are better bison hunters than they are, and we have the pictures to prove it.”

Just like our caveman storyteller, a good story needs to have the power of three’s: a beginning, middle, and end. The arc of the story moves the viewer from the hook at the beginning (who are you and why are you the best?), to the middle (this is what we do better than anyone), to the end, where your viewer has become your customer because you’ve told the best story and offered him a piece of your bison.

Some of us are natural-born verbal storytellers but don’t understand how to translate that to text, photos, video, and interactive content creation.  The thing to remember is that those are pieces of the puzzle. The real thing to determine is this: What do you want the outcome to be? More custom cake orders? Show them the time it takes to build that fantastic cake and how much care you put into it. That’s a story within a story! These mini-narratives are best told with interactive tools.

In caveman days, if it moved, it could kill you, so our limbic senses pay special attention to movement— ‘was that a saber-toothed tiger I just saw? I think I’ll pay extra-special attention now because I really don’t want to be eaten.’

Fortunately, Ingage offers non-lethal interactive tools. Our compare page uses a before-and-after photo with a sliding curtain that reveals portions of each—cake before icing, cake after icing. Upload any sort of short video to the scrollmotion page—timelapse, product 360, progressive charts, panorama of the inside of your cave—and it becomes a touch-driven interactive.

The easy interactive features are the icing on the cake, the roasted bison of the story, so to speak. The real value comes from the intuitive interface that allows you to drag-and-drop images easily and quickly into beautifully designed templates designed for telling a story.  No designers, no developers—just you, your iPad, and some Chinese take-out.

Now that you’ve built your story, try it out on your customers. Their limbic brains will be busy paying attention to the cool interactive features that you’ve managed to pull off. Need to make changes? You can do that while they are sitting next to you. Ready to share it with the world? It’s as easy as logging into your Mailchimp account or posting on Facebook. What if they don’t have an iPad? Have they been living in a cave?? No problem. Ingage can be shared anywhere with the native experience beautifully translated to a browser webview.

Join me in future blogs to learn more about creating a great interactive experience that tells the story YOU want to tell.

Lisa Lytton is Ingage’s Senior Director of Product Design and was formerly Director of Digital Storytelling at National Geographic.