“When we look into a mirror, we do not “see” the surface, we see only our reflection.” Jonathan Miller’s On Reflection, draws on studies of cognitive perception and explains how we come to understand the difference between a reflection and “the real thing,” and how vital reflections are in defining our own sense of identity. 8 months into this experience and “reflection” is what we are constantly asked to do, every little detail is a subject for questioning and deserves to be thought of. Nothing should be taken for granted and there’s a reason for every little thing, there’s a reason behind every act, a reason behind every emotion and a reason behind every absence of emotion. While trying to make sense of what is around you, you slowly start making sense of what is inside you…reflection helped in making me understand my own sense of identity.
Let me try to put some order to my reflections and start with a mind map. It is known to be a highly effective way of getting information in and out of your brain in a creative yet logical way (Buzan Tony, 2011).
I will be proceeding thematically:
– Starting from the very beginning, when asked to introduce ourselves in a sentence, and then have our words, descriptions and parts of ourselves crossed out by our neighbors. This incident triggered 2 things:
First it triggered a fear I have always had, and always searched for ways to avoid “putting yourself out there and marketing yourself”… this fear of mine was once again faced in an entrepreneurship experience at Penrhyn Road on the 27th October 2011 in ”Have you got the drive to be an Entrepreneur”. What touched me the most during that experience was the way in which Brad Burton kept emphasizing on the fact that one has to put himself out there in whatever way ”Five years ago, I was going nowhere fast. But something changed. I got off my arse” (Burton, 2010). His way of talking and his enthusiasm and aggressiveness hit me… at that moment I knew that I had a long way to go if I wanted to be an entrepreneur…
The second thing was you have to either stand out or fade away. This pattern of thought kept coming back all through the course, and it inspired my post “Be distinctive or fade away”. In my post I emphasize on the need of having guts and starting off with a crazy idea in order to create a new value and position your idea or product or service in a realm of it’s own. I used the case study of Swatch, which provided customers with an emotional added value; in order to be distinctive in an over crowded market.
– “Thinking outside the box”, is an expression that kept popping up all through the module. The expression first sparkled intolife in the toilet experiment, where we are asked to perform a task that we do numerous times every single day but in a different way. This experiment not only gave me a different perspective to look at things, but it also made me appreciate the utility of my senses and more importantly it made me realize how these senses are inter-connected. It made me use my remaining senses in a more creative way as well, in the attempt of covering up for my missing sense. The Museum of Everything complemented this experiment, because it exhibited art made by people with disabilities…theses artist were missing something and turned that handicap into an advantage. The museum of Everything also draws my attention on the importance of Space. Because this is an interpreted space–a place with assigned meanings–we may also be challenged to see things in a new way: to find our own way, figuratively, at least (Lord Gail Dexter, 2005). The Space represented a world of it’s own, it was intimate and warm…but what I loved the most was the amount of thought and heart that were put in building the place and creating the entire atmosphere to the very last and smallest detail. There, at that moment…I felt empathy!
– Sharing empathy through storytelling and personas could be done in a large number of ways: through animation, graphs, trailers, event mapping and documentaries. Alan Cooper talks about Personas and not Users in his book “The Inmates are Running the Asylum”. He stresses on the idea of creating a persona and developing a precise description of what he wishes to accomplish and then incorporating it in a Scenario, a story.
In my post Empathizing with fictional characters, I tackled the question of: “Why do we care about what happens to fictional characters?” I came to the conclusion that 2 elements are needed to come up with empathy: 1- A well studied, analyzed, built, polished character/persona 2- A spectator who is ready to give in to the illusion and get carried away by the character.
– Storytelling is the theme that intrigued me the most, during the entire process, and I related everything to storytelling. It all started in a conference I attended at Kings College by Professor Clemens Sedmak entitled “Leadership as the art of telling meaningful stories”. Right there and then, something clicked…I knew that that’s the subject I would like to do my research on for my thesis.
Storytelling in Advertising, Storytelling in Business, Storytelling in Politics, Storytelling in Journalism…we are being told stories, everywhere, anywhere and all the time. “In recent years, storytelling has been promoted in surprising places”, writes the American sociologist Francesca Poletta and Christian Salmon opens up in the preface of his book “Storytelling: Bewitching the modern mind” with the following statement “the injunction to tell stories has swollen to become a popular obsession, an ideology and even a slogan –The slogan for a whole era.”
We tried to implement Personas and storytelling in our AD for our product. We created 3 different personas (which are our 3 users basically) and integrated them in a narration. We showed the process of how our product was being made and how it was being transferred to the personas. We played on emotions and tried to create empathy through storytelling and music. The WID AD was a success, and it’s at this point that I dove even deeper behind the power of storytelling and the manipulation it exercises on its listeners. Actually people are using storytelling as a tool to convey massages, manipulate people and attract customers. I quote myself in my post “Once Upon A Time…” “We are living in a world, which offers many things, presumably desirable goals. This is what we ought to do, this is what we ought to buy, this is who we are suppose to vote for, this is what we are, this is the role we are suppose to play and these are the characters that we are. Is everyone aware of the manipulation and persuasion that they are being exposed to through storytelling?”
In his political Campaign for Presidency in 2004, George W. Bush used the “Ashley Story”. The French writer, Christian Salmon criticized the campaigns story and it’s concept he compared it to “Stage craft instead of state Craft”. The 60-second commercial shows Bush embracing Ashley at a campaign rally during May of 2004, the father of Ashley captured an emotional, unscripted moment that set in motion perhaps the most widely seen, and effective, television commercial of the 2004 campaign. The commercial, with its heartfelt 9/11 connection, turned out to be an exception: a memorable, motivating, feel-good ad…the ad was effective, it showed Bush as a protective, compassionate father figure…and the people felt empathy.
Advertising people have mastered the art of storytelling when creating iconic brand identities and brand stories. As Holt stated: “Iconic brands, by creating an identity for themselves, provide identity to the whole society (Holt, 2004). Just as literature or film create or popularize myths, popular brands can serve as the foundation for creating new myths. The brand myth provides consumers (you and me) perspective in which to enter the illusion to help “make sense” of everyday life (Woodside et al., 2008).
And finally media and journalism have also entered the world of storytelling. Nowadays to stand out, journalists have been changing their modes of communication. Each mode of communication offers different communicative intentions, which each involves a different type of audience based on 3 different needs among viewers (Harms Larsen, 1990). Among the most common modes is storytelling. In the storytelling mode, the journalist becomes a Storyteller; the audience becomes a Listener and the third party a Character.
The second big title I took out of this module is the importance of social media and the different ways in which it could be used in order to reach your goal. Social Media as a tool and platform for marketing yourself, for communication, for creating your own network, for promotion…however social media can either make you or break you. It is a risky tool; the content that you put out will determine your success or failure. Despite the risk, you just have to be there, you have to have an online presence. With the digital revolution and the power of the Internets ability to reach a vast number of people the importance of building an online presence is undeniable. Showcasing ones product or oneself through the Internet so that viewers and potential clients would recognize you, could be considered as a different form of storytelling through the medium of social media.
Individuals and businesses alike should take advantage of social media, promote their stories and put themselves out there because it is the growing trend in the business world today, and the exposure received from online presence would mean securing and edge amidst growing competition.
Lastly and most importantly, the practical part of the course and the entire process of coming up with an idea, doing market research, setting a budget, using our resources, creating a product, designing making and marketing it, standing by it and selling it. Going through the entire chain of production, from coming up with a raw idea to actually selling a polished product was a very informative experience. Working with a team of strangers was not an easy task especially at the beginning. But once our energy was focused on a same goal, on a product everyone brought his best to the table and things ran smoothly.
The process of trial and error was in my opinion the most important part of the process. We were given some guiding lines at the beginning and occasionally got some feedback along the way but we mostly had to do it on our own.
To sum it all up, it was a big Mix of everything and anything, which in the end came altogether to somehow make sense. It just takes some reflection and time to absorb it all and channel the information in the right direction.
The two lines I take with me:
-Think differently and use things in a different and creative way.
-The importance is not only to write a story, but how it spreads, in which network.