Storytelling is Not a Strategy

Brands are ready to embrace the power of storytelling. Kelly Wenzel

I have a love-hate relationship with branding.  

  • I like easy-to-identify fonts and colors so that when I see a green straw, I think “Starbucks.”  When I see this, I think PCUSA.
  • I don’t like pegging people as in “I know what Jan’s about and my narrative about her is set.”  It’s true that I’m associated with church, Church, and some parenting/cultural shifts/Southern things.  I’m white, married, and straight. But there’s more to me than that.

Contently offered this article last March about the importance of meaning-making but the author was talking about business profits.  It’s an old story that businesses try to tug on heartstrings to tell a story that will make us buy their product.  Think cotton commercials circa 1990s (The Fabric of Our Lives.)

But manipulation is a terrible idea, especially for the 21st Century Church. Millennials are notoriously excellent BS detectors and many others of us can smell when we’ve been targeted.

We tell stories because they make meaning, yes.  But it’s for spiritual nourishment rather than “winning.”  Stories build that armor of protection we’ll need in a cruel world.  Stories comfort us in terrible times.  In the world of faith and religion, stories remind us that we are not alone.

For Christians, it’s particularly meaningful that we have a God whose story includes betrayal and grief and humiliation.  We lesser humans have been there too.  It’s part of our story.

And when we share our stories, it’s not to manipulate or serve ourselves. Storytelling is not a strategy – the Contently people are right.  But a story’s purpose is to connect us to each other.

I wish the image said: “Feed Me. A Story.”  I love food stories and Jesus told lots of them.  Check these out.

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