Storytelling VideosVideos That Grow Business

The Power of the Positive in Cinematic Storytelling

What if you could make your company video so emotionally captivating that people would watch it over and over and share it on social media? You can and it’s called cinematic storytelling.

All too often corporate videos are designed only to relay company information. Though this is important, it’s not really memorable, entertaining or emotional. They all feel pretty much the same with the same uncreative, obligatory shots and talking heads.  How many truly enjoy watching a typical corporate videos?

If you want to give your audience a rewarding video experience that will drive them to your website, consider telling them an inspirational story about how your company made a positive impact in someone’s life.  Your corporate story might address what your company is doing to make a difference in education, poverty, the environment, equality, or the like. It could demonstrate how you make the community a better place to live and work. Maybe some aspect of your business changed a bad situation into a good one. The difference between the standard corporate video and a cinematic story is that it truly is a story about a person, maybe a customer or community member that your company helped and it is inspirational. It is not a video version of the facts and figures from your website.

All great stories are about problems, change, and resolution, very much like business. It follows the classic story arch of a person (story hero) that desperately wants something they don’t have but there is a huge obstacle that prevents them from getting it. The remainder of the story is how they, with the help of a guide (your company) address the problem with a plan that you provide, a course change that enables them to overcome their obstacles, get what they desired and find fulfillment and resolution. (For more information about your role as a guide in storytelling, go to Corporate videos that are designed this way  reward your customers with an entertaining experience about a person they can relate to while at the same time providing them with some key business information.

One of the reasons cinematic stories are so compelling is the emotional gratification they bring to the viewer. Robert McKee, the story doctor to Hollywood screenwriters, states that one of the keys to making a story or film emotionally gratifying is mastering the value changes, (from negative to positive or positive to negative).  He says that the classic story arch is engaging because each scene (or act or total film) starts with a negative value in the characters life but by the end the situation has reversed to the positive. There has to be change to have a scene or a story. If the value is the same at the end as it was in the beginning, nothing happened and that is not a story, nor is it worthy of a viewers time. In the midst of our human experience, we crave the change of positive outcomes and resolution to conflict. Hollywood stories are built on a constant cycle of unexpected turns from the negative to the positive and positive to the negative. Every scene requires a value change or it loses the interest of the audience. Companies can learn from this Hollywood technique. Keeping your audience engaged with your brand is crucial to loyalty and repeat business.

Lisa Cron, in Wired for Story, demonstrates conclusively how the value shifts  of great stories create a neurological effect upon the brain due in part to the endorphin rush they provide. We are neurologically wired for the ups and downs of storytelling and the empathy this creates. The audience takes an emotional stake in the quest of the protagonist, because in some way, we empathize with his plight. How will the protagonist overcome this obstacle? We want the hero to win because we want to win! In a two hour film, these turns happen multiple times to keep the audience begging for more. In a corporate cinematic story that lasts 2-4 minutes, there is likely only one turn from negative to positive, so it has to be authentic, inspiring and rewarding.

Now consider how a cinematic story takes these two story aspects (story arch and value shifts) and converts them into a captivating corporate story. For example, maybe your company is committed to helping kids from a local high school escape the cycle of poverty.  Then you tell a story about a local high school student that lives in poverty, struggles in school and has no good role model in life (negative). Then someone from your company reaches out to him with an offer. If the student promises to come work for you for four years after high school, you will tutor him while in high school and then pay him $24 an hour to work for your company after graduation. Additionally, your company will also pay for his tuition at a local college. And now, 7 years later, the student has a degree and has been promoted to management in your company and is tutoring other local students (positive). The student goes from a negative situation to a positive future. These types of authentic stories are inspirational and engaging. They are exponentially more likely to be shared on social media and they have the power to drive people to your website to learn more.

Contrast this storytelling approach with a typical corporate video that brags about how great it’s people, products and processes are. In this type of video, everything is great and everyone is bragging on the company’s achievements. There are no value shifts from negative to positive. Of course this is wonderful from the business standpoint but it’s boring from the audience perspective. On an emotional level, we aren’t intrigued. There is no underdog to pull for, no adversity to overcome, no enemy to defeat. It’s just more facts and figures floating in a sea of endless information.

Informational corporate videos are necessary because we all need to explain and differentiate our people, products and processes. But at least once a year, include a cinematic story that tells an inspirational story of how you do your part to make a positive impact in real people’s lives. You will satisfy a profound human need for good news and give your customers a deeply rewarding experience with your brand.  Your audience begins to associate you with goodness and inspiration. And that equals trust and brand loyalty.

Cinematic storytelling is about a person that your audience can readily identify with because that person has a similar problem. When your cinematic story is strategically designed to deal with the typical problems your customers face, you now have an emotional hook. At this point, the story exemplifies who you are as the change agent for good in the world. Your business helps your customers get what they want by giving them a solution to their problem. In in their eyes, YOU are the hero!

If you want to know about how to tell such stories for your organization, contact us today to schedule an appointment. We would love to hear about your organization and help you solve your problems. Go to our contact page and let’s talk!

Dr. David K Bray
President & Producer
Barking Squirrel Media, LLC