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To infinitely inspiring internal comms… and beyond!

When it’s time to pull together a compelling strategic IC narrative for your business, where better to look for creative inspiration than the best in the creative business themselves, Pixar?

A narrative is the essential golden thread that helps leaders and communicators construct a compelling story and stay on message throughout the life span of a strategic programme or campaign.

But, if it’s not something you do every day in your communication life, you might need guidance or inspiration next time you’re faced with writing a strategic narrative.

Inspired by Pixar’s 22 golden rules of storytelling, here are some of our top tips to creating a strategic narrative for your business.

 

 


#1

Pixar’s golden rule: You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.

scarlettabbott’s golden IC nugget: People admire a brand for its honesty and ambition more than its success.

 

#2

Pixar’s golden rule: You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be v. different.

scarlettabbott’s golden IC nugget: Your audience has a limited attention span. Keep it simple, well-ordered and plain-speaking.

 

#3

Pixar’s golden rule: Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.

scarlettabbott’s golden IC nugget: Metaphors can really help explain a situation, but they can overcomplicate things. Only use a metaphor if it fits seamlessly and doesn’t require explanation.

 

#4

Pixar’s golden rule: Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.

scarlettabbott’s golden IC nugget: Our business has a heritage of____. But the world/our customers are changing. If we want to be_____, we need to____. That’s why we’re____. And because of that we need you to____.

 

#5

Pixar’s golden rule: Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.

scarlettabbott’s golden IC nugget: Simplify. Write a version that’s ten pages long, at first, if you need to. Edit, simplify and sub-edit again. Be ruthless, can you get it down to one or two pages of A4?

 

#6

Pixar’s golden rule: What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal with it?

scarlettabbott’s golden IC nugget: Celebrate your strengths and acknowledge your weaknesses. This helps set an authentic context for change.

 

#7

Pixar’s golden rule: Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.

scarlettabbott’s golden IC nugget: What’s your desired, well-formed outcome? What do you want people to do as a result of reading your narrative? Be clear about this and make sure every sentence contributes to this outcome.

 

#8

Pixar’s golden rule: Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. Do better next time.

scarlettabbott’s golden IC nugget: Seek feedback, but don’t let too many opinions muddy the clarity for which you aim. Additional context belongs in the supporting communications.

 

#9

Pixar’s golden rule: When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.

scarlettabbott’s golden IC nugget: If you get stuck, change your lens. Try focusing on the risks of not changing, as opposed to the potential benefits of changing.

 

#10

Pixar’s golden rule: Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognise it before you can use it.

scarlettabbott’s golden IC nugget: Reach out to your network; find examples of other narratives. Look for patterns in the storytelling and think about which parts have the greatest emotional impact on you as a reader. Steal with pride!

 

#11

Pixar’s golden rule: Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.

scarlettabbott’s golden IC nugget: Get words down on paper, just make a start! Copy and paste from emails, from your corporate website, from notes from conversations with leaders. Even if it’s scrappy, the longest journey starts with a first step.

 

#12

Pixar’s golden rule: Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.

scarlettabbott’s golden IC nugget: V17, v24, even v30 might top your narrative before you get sign off of the final version. Don’t worry, first cuts are rarely the last and iteration is to be expected. 

 

#13

Pixar’s golden rule: Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.

scarlettabbott’s golden IC nugget: Borrow the favourite, well-used phrases of your leaders. Speaking in their vernacular (as long as its simple) will help them feel that they own it… and sound authentic to your business.

 

#14

Pixar’s golden rule: Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.

scarlettabbott’s golden IC nugget: Why this story? Why now? Not every narrative has a ‘burning’ platform but there’s usually something ‘smouldering’ somewhere, to necessitate doing things differently. Be clear about that.

 

#15

Pixar’s golden rule: If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.

scarlettabbott’s golden IC nugget: Don’t be afraid to be emotional. People like to know what their business has learnt from past mistakes. Address errors head on, learn from them, close the chapter and move on – failure is part of success.

 

#16

Pixar’s golden rule: What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against them.

scarlettabbott’s golden IC nugget: What’s the political or economic landscape in which you’re operating? What are your customers saying? What are your competitors doing? Give people real life, pragmatic reasons to change.

 

#17

Pixar’s golden rule: No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on – it’ll come back around to be useful later.

scarlettabbott’s golden IC nugget: No work is ever wasted. Never delete words, always save a new version. A longer, deeper explanation, cut from a previous draft could be gold dust, saving you time later in your communication campaign.

 

#18

Pixar’s golden rule: You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best and fussing. Storytelling is testing, not refining.

scarlettabbott’s golden IC nugget: Sweat the small stuff. Make sure every word is charged with meaning. Compelling narratives are packed with simple but powerful words.

 

#19

Pixar’s golden rule: Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.

scarlettabbott’s golden IC nugget: Rose tinting doesn’t wash. Every decision communicated must have an honest, transparent and thought-through rationale behind it. Even the best comms people can’t ‘spin’ the business out of a poor decision.

 

#20

Pixar’s golden rule: Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d’you rearrange them into what you DO like?

scarlettabbott’s golden IC nugget: Practise. Write yourself a narrative for a project even if it never gets communicated in full to your audience. It will help you get a clear grasp of the priority order of your messages.

 

#21

Pixar’s golden rule: You gotta identify with your situation/characters. You can’t just write ‘cool’. What would make YOU act that way?

scarlettabbott’s golden IC nugget: Avoid any marketing spiel, jargon or acronyms. The ultimate purpose of a narrative is clarity.

 

#22

Pixar’s golden rule: What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.

scarlettabbott’s golden IC nugget: Half-way through the process, try writing your narrative as 5-6 bullet points. This is the essence of your story.

 


 

If you’re about to start a narrative, or are stuck half-way through, our experienced internal communication consultants can help you craft a powerful story that will resonate with your people. No matter what stage you’re at, drop us a line.

 

 

Source: io9.gizmodo.com