By Melinda Hudgins Noblitt | 2.9.16
From the second David Hutchens spoke his first words at NAMA’s February Power Lunch, he immediately captivated the entire room.
He is, after all, a storyteller.
Hutchens was there to share insight into organizational narrative, or “Telling Your Brand Story,” but it became so much more.
It evolved into a growing experience for everyone involved, and I’d be hard-pressed to find someone who didn’t leave the luncheon inspired.
Storytelling has been around for some 30,000 years, but more recently, companies are learning to utilize that art as a means of branding.
In fact, that’s where Hutchens excels – as an author, business writer, and learning designer who “creates communication solutions for The Coca-Cola Company, Wal-Mart, IBM, GE, Nike, L’Oreal, Dannon.” The list goes on.
“Knowledge is not data,” he said. “Wisdom is hard stuff that can’t go into an Excel sheet.”
We, as marketers, are curators of our organization’s brand identity, Hutchens explained.
“What’s your story?” he asked. “If someone asked you that, what would your answer be?”
You could almost see the wheels turning in everyone’s heads. The sheer volume of brain activity taking place during the hour long lunch could’ve powered the entire Hilton Garden Inn for a full month.
“Strategic storytelling is not about public speaking, it’s about telling certain stories at the right time for the purpose of building a brand,” Hutchens explained.
With that, he launched us into an activity, an assignment of sorts, which involved an index card, a (brief) moment of contemplation, and a buzz of excitement:
- What are you an advocate for? What’s your purpose?
- Think of a moment or experience that placed you on this path.
Hutchens then told the story of Ernest Hemingway’s six-word novel:
For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.
You can guess assignment No. 3: Write a six-word story.
Once written, we were to hold it in front of our chests, facing outward, and walk around the room introducing ourselves to one another.
“Stories don’t exist in a vacuum, in isolation,” Hutchens urged. “Network. It draws people together and brings it to life.”
Some folks created a six-word novel that described their professional lives, while others opted for a more personal approach.
It was both incredibly vulnerable and exhilarating, and Hutchens explained why.
“If you were to take a brain scan while telling a story, it would light up like a Christmas tree,” he said. “If you were to scan the listener’s brain, it would be almost identical.”
He went on to tell about Paul Zak, who has explored the neuroscience of empathy.
So which stories should you be telling?
Hutchens says there are 4 Core Stories:
- Change & Learning
No two stories should look alike. As the curator of our individual brands, our ultimate destination is the future.
“What does innovation look like at your company?” he inquired. “Establish principles for what action looks like in this organization.”
Invite clients and employees to share their stories to create a narrative dialogue.
“What is the journey you’re inviting people into?” asked Hutchens.
If you’re interested in learning more, check out Hutchens’ new book Circle of the 9 Muses.