The Power of Storytelling

Written by Charles Nelson - December 11, 2019

What does it take to get your message across to your prospective clients? How can you be heard above the clamour? What is the strength of your “signal to noise” ratio?

One thing you can be certain of is that pushing your service offerings at your prospective clients is NOT going to separate your firm from the herd – you’ll only be part of the “noise” – the 90% or so of design firms still mentally locked into last century’s stale assumptions about marketing, and all sounding pretty much the same.

Your best options for making your messages stand out will be some combination of storytelling and data (the new word for statistics). Before getting into which is the better choice in different situations, let’s consider both the strengths and weaknesses of storytelling (I’ll discuss data in some other post).


Why are stories powerful?

Stories work because we have a continuous history going back deep into pre-history, where we told, and listened to, stories from the time that proto-humans invented primitive language.

I can’t prove this, but I strongly suspect that our brain evolution was as much a response to storytelling as storytelling became richer because of increasing brain evolution. In other words, I believe our brains (at least part of them) were hard-wired to respond to stories long before logic came on the scene.

We can define a “story” as a set of plausible assumptions made about circumstances we don’t fully understand. Study the long sweep of the development of all religions and old ideas about the earth being both flat and the centre of the universe, and you’ll see the durability of a good story.

Charles Nelson AIA, LFRAIA

Sep 5, 2018