The most personal is the most creative

Gayle Kennedy B2B Creative, B2B Storytelling, Creative Covenant

Because brand storytelling lives under the ‘business’ umbrella, it can be easy to assume that the principles of ‘real’ creativity do not apply. It’s time for this to change.

At the 2020 Oscars (before everything changed), Best Director winner Bong Joon Ho cited this quote by Martin Scorsese in his acceptance speech:


‘The most personal is the most creative.’


This artistic tenet calls for us to have a personal stake in what we create. While this seems to have a natural home in films and novels, what about in brand storytelling?


Because brand storytelling lives under the ‘business’ umbrella, it can be easy to assume that the principles of ‘real’ creativity do not apply. The very nature of business – targets, sales cycles, and MQLs – suggests that nurturing true creativity is incongruous with achieving a company’s wider corporate goals.


However, we are in an era where true, unhindered, and bold creativity is essential to ensuring that businesses achieve the salience and meaning required to penetrate and thrive in an oversaturated market. Storytelling has repeatedly been to bethe most potent means of instilling brand loyalty (neurologically, emotionally,chemically and more), yet most businesses that require the creativity to conjure these stories do not consider themselves to be creative companies.


This demands a step-change of the highest order. And we have already seen it happen in other guises – for example, many companies that don’t consider themselves technology companies require some of the brightest technological minds to be a part of its ongoing success and innovation; therefore, this requires that technology is as prized as your core business proposition, whether you’re a law firm, a financial service, an entertainment company, or a healthcare provider.


So how can any organization put creativity at the heart?


Make it personal for employees

For employees to have a personal interest in your success, you need a clear purpose. What problem are you trying to solve? How does it make a difference? Create stories around that difference.


Make it cultural

There is a misconception that cultural associations don’t work in brand storytelling.While it can be easy to assume that licensing the latest Billie Eilish song will be what grabs people’s attention, storytelling requires the much more complex notion of emotional correlation. What can your story remind the customer of? Where will it take them? Is there a familiarity you can create?


Give it time

Another misconception in brand storytelling is that it’s a short process. Brands are simple, right? The goals of a campaign are easy to understand, correct?Therefore all one has to do is marry the two and voila – the right story will present itself.


Great stories are not conjured overnight. While a business shouldn’t take the twelve years it took Donna Tartt to write The Secret History or the four years it took Stanley Kubrick to make Eyes Wide Shut, it should factor in a reasonable creative and production cycle. It should provide space and time for stories tobe born, nurtured, and brought to life.


Make (room for) mistakes

If you’re providing a space for true creativity then you must accept that getting to the right answer often requires several not-so-right ones along the way. Indeed, arriving at the right answer can sometimes only be achieved if all ideas are given air, even if the final answer looks nothing like the initial output.


Go further

The principles of brand storytelling are to get to the heart of what your customers want. But what if we could take this further and ask: what does our customer want to be? Go beyond what your brand can offer them in terms of solving customers’ problems, but ask instead: how can we elevate our customers’ hopes and dreams?


I leave you with this quote by Andy Warhol:


‘Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.’

Gayle Kennedy

Gayle Kennedy

Head of Storytelling Author and 2021 winner of the Brand Narrative Specialists Award, Gayle is a true wordsmith and storyteller, capturing the TOVs of both Velo and our clients. With a love for jazz and a bluesy singing voice, Gayle is happiest up a mountain or wild swimming in a river – in all seasons.