In my blog post from May, I examined the vital link between brand building and storytelling. It’s an idea—a way of approaching the art and science of branding—that’s not only accessible and compelling, it’s finally becoming mainstream.

Beyond the functional how-to’s of better branding through better storytelling, let’s explore why stories have always been so central to the human experience and why they continue to shape how we live, experience the world, and connect with one another in this hyper connected era.

Storytelling—the oral tradition of sharing information—is arguably the only reason you and I are here today. Life a few thousand years ago was no cakewalk. In order to survive, our ancestors needed to encapsulate and share what they’d learned in a way that would be, in the primitive sense, “viral.” Stories accomplished that task by helping each successive generation understand threats, respond to danger, and find resources. They helped us minimize everyday chaos and move from our position as tasty appetizers for a host of predators to the top of the food chain (yay for stories!)

And, as with all things, storytelling evolved. Over time, narratives became more complex and nuanced; they began to express our beliefs and communicate the rules and values that are the very foundations of culture building.

In short, storytelling was humankind’s first great technological innovation. It was born out of sheer necessity and has endured because of its power to unite people and build cohesive and ever more complex “tribes.”

Stories are no less powerful in modern society. Though the tools we use to share have expanded, the influence of the story itself is still profound. Today, forward-thinking colleges and universities are seizing upon the primacy of authentic storytelling and using it to strengthen their brands, connect emotionally with new audiences, and encourage those audiences to become part of the story themselves.

As we bring in a new year, consider your institution’s brand story. Has it been diluted over time? Could it be expressed in a more compelling way? Is it at odds with the current experience of students, alumni, or faculty and staff? If so, resolve to make 2018 the year of your brand. Tap into the stories that shape your school—the old ones, the new ones, the ones that are being lived and told this very moment. Each story carries its own emotional charge that can power your brand for years to come.

At Stamats, we understand the value of authentic and enduring stories. Through a suite of research-driven strategic, creative, and communication solutions, we elevate brands by elevating the narratives they’re built on. For more information on how we can help move your brand forward in 2018, please call me directly at 319-861-5146 or email beatrice.szalas@stamats.com.

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