The world needs more stories of light.

Some say that we are living in the worst time in the history of humankind. The number of lives lost to violence and wars, coupled with growing civil unrest throughout our country and world are staggering. Combine this with rises in cancer and other diseases, along with deep global challenges of human rights, income inequality and climate crisis, it is no wonder that view exists.

But rather than despair, there is a tremendous opportunity to see another narrative and be a part of a solution of hope and light. Humanity is made of individual stories, and each of us has the ability to be part of the collective story that will help change the narrative of discord. In our world of content overload, everyone has the ability to be a media company. We can choose to tell and share stories of light across an integrated and global platform.

According to Science Daily a new MRI research study from the University of Pennsylvania revealed that people are interested in reading and sharing content that connects to their own experiences, their sense of who they are and who they want to be. When stories go viral through Facebook messages, tweets and emails, they can have real impact on society. The human brain is wired to find meaning, and it will actively seek out meaning whether we are conscious of that fact or not. Stories can help us find that meaning and see the generosity of others. Stories help us feel emotionally invested and connected.

The Giving USA 2017 Annual Report on Philanthropy shows that as a society we've never been more giving and generous. American individuals, estates, foundations, and corporations contributed an estimated $390.05 billion to U.S. charities in 2016. There is a large and growing trend toward generous and conscious capitalism, fair and just capitalism, and simply giving back. Smart business leaders understand that having a social mission aligned with a business mission is critical to an overall strategy, and the collective power of capitalism that does good should be acknowledged, celebrated and shared.

There is also a rise in generations that are very conscious of doing good. More than eighty million Millennials (age 18-33) are coming of age, and they bring with them more than $200 billion in spending power. This generation seeks meaning in their lives and a desire to impact the greater world. They are made up of savvy consumers who make purchase decisions with organizations that sell more than a product or service. They like to do business with organizations that have authentic and transparent social missions to do much larger good in the world.

For more than two decades I've been a storyteller, and I've had the privilege to witness and experience how a simple story can bring governments, communities, non-profits, and individuals together. By isolating a story of light we can rally around a cause, initiative or support of an individual. 

Stories of light help us celebrate the triumph of the human spirit and the intersection of corporate social responsibility, faith-based and cause related initiatives that make the world a better place. The stories of light are all around us. Together we can rise through the clutter and noise, and cast out a bold message that there is unshakable beauty and light in the world.

Brand Storytelling

Your organization has a voice. The most strategic way to express that voice is through the powerful narrative of your brand story. It doesn't matter if you are big or small, start-up, non-profit or Fortune 500, all can benefit from brand storytelling. To really engage audiences and rise above the noise and clutter, organizations are realizing they need to create a culture of ongoing rich editorial content, and the best way to do that is through brand storytelling.

A wide spectrum of creativity needs to be involved that combines integrated skills and expertise. To be effective you need a combination of design, photography, video, communications, marketing, advertising and public relations to work together. Strategic storytelling should play a part of your larger narrative foundation, and you'll need to think of stories as the building blocks to reach your awareness goals and to motivate others.

The primary goal in brand storytelling is to have your mission come alive. You do this by tapping into an emotional core that adds a human face to connect it to the people you wish to reach. Telling that bigger story relentlessly and unwaveringly should be the foundation for all your content, as well as making sure it is integrated into your paid, earned and owned channels. Everyone charged with creating content for your brand should be looking at it through the same story lens and asking, "is this content steeped in your larger mission?" The paradox about effective brand storytelling is that the story isn't about you; it's about what you do for others.

Steve Jobs was a master brand storyteller. For him, the Apple products were not static products that simply performed a function. Jobs designed products to help people do things they wanted to do and told a story of innovation. Brand storytelling is creativity at its best because it's not about what's on the surface, as it digs deeper to find the unexpected angles of how your mission comes alive and what is unique to your brand story.

Marketing is about values. It’s a complicated and noisy world, and we’re not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us. No company is. So we have to be really clear about what we want them to know about us.
— Steve Jobs

Organizations like Apple, Cargill, Nike, and Mayo Clinic, are some of the visionaries who are creating exceptional brand storytelling content. Equally, and one would argue even more, important to take note of are the non-profit organizations that help their mission come alive through the powerful storytelling focus. Charity Water, Stand Up To Cancer and Make-A-Wish all are effective brand storytellers. These organizations have cleared away the corporate speak and brand jargon to rise above with stories of collaboration, innovation, impact, light and hope. I'm convinced the world would be a much better place if the resources of the for-profit world would help the non-profits tell and share their stories. In our current landscape of fake news, online unrest, lack of civility and our unwillingness to listen to one another, authentic storytelling is even more critical. In order to change the negative narrative in our world and impact change, it will take all of us working together to ensure that authentic stories are told and most importantly shared.