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    1. Santander X Explorer


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    11 minutes of reading

    Storytelling: everything you need to know in 12 questions

    1. Santander X Explorer

    By Pablo Laporte (, consultant and coach in storytelling and brand narrative.

    What is storytelling?

    Storytelling is a communication tool that uses the elements of storytelling to make communication authentic, emotional and memorable. It is not only about sharing a story, but also about making communication a narrative experience.

    How can storytelling benefit my project?

    Entrepreneurship is about creating a product that reaches and stays in its corresponding market. Storytelling is the key tool to get your message heard, to make your message stand out in the attention economy. Storytelling, to use a metaphor, is your product’s suit. Without a story that clearly tells what problem it solves, and how it will change the life of the end users or of the allies you are adding to the project, it will be much more difficult for you to stand out. Basically, accurate storytelling is one that manages to explain and place your product in a concrete reality, but also one that excites enough for others to want to be part of it, either as consumers or as allies (and by allies I mean the potential partners, financiers, business angels or mentors that every entrepreneur needs to reach that market). How can storytelling help your project? Very simple: it will help you make it a reality.

    Should I use storytelling in my elevator pitch?

    If the question is whether you should include a specific story with an introduction, crux, and dénouement in your pitch, the answer is that it is not necessary, far at least, as a rule. But it is true that a pitch is, in a way, a story, since it shares many of its elements. Every story has six elements: universe, character, conflict, message, structure and audience. In that sense, a pitch should always reflect the following six elements:

    • The universe: your market.
    • The character: the entrepreneur and his/her skills.
    • Conflict: the problem the product solves.
    • Message: the product works and is viable.
    • Structure: every pitch, just like a good story, must have a powerful beginning that captures the audience. It must expose the conflict to be able to solve it and, once solved, show a better world. And finally, it must have a memorable conclusion.
    • Audience: ideally, an investor. In any case, a good pitch is one that adapts to its audience and embraces it so that it can identify with the product or the protagonist.

    Can I make up the stories?

    It’s not that you can’t. Of course, you can illustrate a real problem through a fictional story. As long as the story is coherent and sends the message you want to send, you can make up a story. But what is totally wrong is to make up a story in order to pass off facts as true. It is inadvisable for two reasons: if, for example, you are inventing a story in which your product solves a problem when, in reality, you have never managed to make it happen, then you should consider whether you are going down the right direction. The second is that you will lose credibility with yourself and others when they find out.

    What exactly is a story?

    A story is a piece of communication that reflects how human beings, through their actions and their ways of facing adversities or challenges, evolve for the better or for the worse. They are examples of how things are from a subjective view of reality. But let’s go a little further. Think of an apple. What is an apple tree’s apple good for? An apple is, above all, the packaging of a seed. An apple is rich for an animal to eat it and later deposit that seed in another place, where another apple tree will come out. Good. A story is the same, a container that holds a message that is often very simple, almost atomic. For instance: love is the engine of the world (romantic); if you want to, you can (heroic); there is no escaping evil (tragic). In the case of entrepreneurship, your stories should send messages that are as simple: my product works, the market needs my product, and I know what I’m doing. If you are going to use stories, consider beforehand what messages you want to send with them. And remember, a story without a message is an empty vessel.

    Does using storytelling mean getting naked, and sharing everything?

    No. Never. One of the wonders of storytelling is that it allows us to choose a selection of the most relevant and representative facts of what we do. Reality is subjective, so you are free to choose, from that reality, the points that best suit your story. Let me give you an example: it is not the same to say that you started a business because you had no job as it is to say that being unemployed gave you the time you needed to undertake the project of your dreams. Both statements are true in a hypothetical case, but the second one is clearly more effective. You should not confuse authenticity and honesty with not giving the best version of the facts, as long as, as we have already mentioned, those are true and consistent.

    Do I have to create a character for my personal brand?

    I am afraid that this answer does not have a yes or no answer, but it is a fact that a large part of the success of many brands and entrepreneurial projects has to do not so much with a persona, but with a personality or, better said, with a personality archetype. The philosopher and psychiatrist Carl Jung, a disciple of Freud, created a sort of classification of the different personalities of human beings, which turned out to be twelve. These twelve archetypes (models, pure essences) have been of great help to the history of modern narrative, as they have provided a shortcut to create character bases that are then molded and shaped. If you read Antonio Núñez’s book “You’d better tell it”, you will find not only a magnificent definition of each of the twelve “archetypes”, but also a table that indicates that even countries can be ascribed to this typology of archetypes. In the meantime, while you buy the book, you can read this article (English alternative here), in which you can also see examples of well-known brands closely related to an archetype. If you want to effectively narrow down all your storytelling, take the time to answer this question: what is the personality archetype of your project? Characters with deep personalities, just like brands, do not always belong to a pure archetype, but to a primary, a secondary and a tertiary one. However, all brands are clear about which is the primary one.

    What kind of brand story is mine?

    Unlike archetypes, in which no one doubts there are twelve, there are many theories about how many story archetypes exist, but for the sake of not complicating our lives, we are going to talk about seven and agree with our friends at Storytelling&Co (English alternative). In any case, here is an important disclaimer: these elements, the archetypes of characters and stories, must be useful as long as they are a springboard to create authentic and effective storytelling. In no case should they be the opposite, a corset. Your storytelling should always be at the service of your project and be what suits it, never the other way around. If you first choose your archetypes and then try to adapt your project, you will be putting it in serious danger, since your communication may not end up being aligned with your product or yourself.

    How much do emotions play a role in the stories?

    Everything. And that’s the interesting thing about storytelling. If before we talked about stories as “vehicles”, we can talk about emotions as “engines”. Indeed, their very etymology indicates this. The words motion, stimulus, movement or motivation share the same: emotio, which basically refers to moving something from point A to point B. Stories move us, because when they are finished, if they have worked, they will have made us feel and think to the point of changing our perception or vision of the topic being talked about and empathize with issues we had never empathized with before. Our brand stories must fulfill the same function, to excite, to move towards a change, to make others understand that what we want to solve needs a solution. This is the only way to gain the trust of third parties in the future of our idea.

    Does a good story work in all cases?

    A story, no matter how good it is, will never work in all cases, since there is nothing more inaccurate and unpredictable than the outcome of a story. The cliché “to each his own” fits well in this case. However, that should not concern you. What you should be concerned about is whether the story you tell yourself works for you, whether it excites you, inspires you and/or encourages you to continue. If it does, then you can be sure that it will work in most cases, and certainly in the important ones.

    What are the best channels to use storytelling?

    There are no best channels, there are better ways depending on the channel. This article by Lucía Jiménez Vida explains well how to tell stories on Instagram. Samsung’s campaign with the #RedMonkey story is a great example of what we can get to do on Twitter. But in itself, a network profile, a YouTube channel, or a blog should tell a great story, showing a protagonist who, through his communication and his project, defends a cause, values and a better future. It’s much easier said than done, of course, but isn’t the challenge worth it?

    At what stage of development is it advisable to start working on my storytelling?

    You’re already late.

    Photo by Rain Bennett in Unsplash


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