4 min read

Words of change

Stories possess great power. They can move us, captivate us, and inspire us to change. In an age where crises like climate, inequality and polarisation loom large, stories play a vital role in helping us rewrite our future realities.

A good story turns the noise down.

We’ve all felt it; in the pub over a pint, in the hush of the cinema or amongst the chatter of the school-drop off. In a world that is fast-paced, interconnected, and increasingly complex, one element remains timeless: the irresistible draw of a captivating tale.

Recently in the UK we’ve seen the huge effect that ITV’s ‘Mr Bates vs the Post Office’ has had on igniting action in the Horizon Post Office scandal. The New York Times went so far as to state it “achieved more in one week than investigative journalists and politicians in more than a decade”.

At Friendhood, we’re interested in how change happens. As a creative studio grown from many seeds (human-centred design/visual arts/a desire for more) we see first hand the effect thoughtful and unexpected communication can have on ideas. We also look around and feel the overwhelm but are committed to turning the doomsday clock back a few minutes. The ideas, tech and approaches needed are out there, and storytelling is the tool to make them stick.

Building a bridge 

Storytelling has a role to play in bridging the gap between the ideas created and the audiences that can convert them to action; building momentum and consensus quicker. The stakes are real - consider how support has cultivated around two unlikely companions in storytelling; Trump and Thunberg.

“Both the former US President and the environmental activist have used a particular type of storytelling that employs heroes, villains and plotlines promising change to rally support.”

Johan Nordensvard

Two storytellers weaving different futures for climate

Storytelling possesses the extraordinary ability to bring clarity to complex and divisive issues, inspiring individuals to take action. Whether it’s implementing a corporate strategy or activating a grassroots movement - it serves as a universal catalyst for change.

The needle in a haystack 

In today's world, where information is constantly bombarding us and attention spans are frayed, it is more important than ever to have the ability to captivate an audience. When clarity is lost we get stuck; overwhelmed by the complexity and apathetic without a purpose.  

The key to moving the needle is understanding. In storytelling this means making things digestible, shorter and simpler. The French philosopher Blaise Pascal once wrote in a letter ”I have made this longer because I have not had time to make it shorter.” In a world of seemingly infinite data, research and innovation it can be tempting to lay it all out. But understanding deeply and telling simply - that's the key to cutting through the noise.

Complex social issues summarised in simple statements by The poster Workshops, 1986-1971

Life craft 

From creation myths to content creators; whom we follow and why can be the direct result of the tales we’re told. However, the combined influence of corporate depersonalisation, A.I and optimisation has resulted in a lack of respect for narrative. Data is centre stage, bullet points are everywhere (if the climate crisis doesn’t get you, the Powerpoint will) and craft has been given a backseat. But here’s the thing - our brains don't really work like that. In fact, the human brain is wired to remember stories, not just facts and figures.

“Stories are incredibly potent communication vehicles, as they align with the patterns our minds are naturally inclined to receive and recall.”

Braden Dragomir

As we return to a desire for craft in an over-automated world, we too must return to stories as a tool for lasting action. 

Two articulations of American agriculture as an industry in decline.
Left: @wehavethedata | Right: Michelle Siu's photography series: 'The Last Farmer'

The New Age of Storytellers

“When it comes to inspiring people to embrace a vision or a change in behaviour, storytelling isn’t just better than the other tools, it’s the only thing that works"

Steve Denning, The World Bank's Head of Talent Management

From the halls of academia to the corporate boardroom, the ability to curate and deliver a compelling narrative is a powerful asset. Data deals in binaries - stories deal in the life, history and the experience around us. They shape our understanding of the world; they help us empathise with others and see issues through a multi-dimensional lens. By unfolding complex subjects through relatable narratives, we make the intangible tangible and the distant close. That’s fertile ground for progress. 

At Friendhood, we believe that everyone has a story to tell - If you need help discovering yours - let’s talk.

Friendhood — a creative consultancy for people thinking about tomorrow.

2024 Friendhood Ltd. All rights reserved.

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