What is new about «transmedia storytelling and branding»?

A few days ago I reveived an invitation to an event titled «Transmedia storytelling and branding: Mapping new territory»

Corporate communicators and marketing professionals find themselves in the midst of a period of a profound and prolonged media change that is impacting how content is generated and circulated in ways that will rewrite the rules around corporate communication. At the heart of these changes we find what is often called “Transmedia Storytelling” and “Transmedia Branding.” Transmedia storytelling and branding engages consumers in multi-media platforms allowing them to influence and enrich the development of the brand.

Transmedia communication is the process by which information about a brand is packaged into an integrated narrative that is dispersed in unique contributions across multiple media channels for the purpose of creating an interactive brand experience. Organizations struggle with how to implement these new concepts and strategies often fostering a competitive rather than collaborative approach. A deeper understanding of transmedia storytelling and branding is a must for any organization that wants to communicate effectively in this new environment.

I remembered having come across the term just recently and decided to dig into it. My first impression back then was that it’s nothing new and most likely just «selling old wine in new containers».

Wikipedia defines the term «Transmedia Storytelling» as follows:

(also known as transmedia narrative or multiplatform storytelling) is the technique of telling a single story or story experience across multiple platforms and formats using current digital technologies, and is not to be confused with traditional cross-platform media franchises,sequels or adaptations.

From a production standpoint, it involves creating content that engages an audience using various techniques to permeate their daily lives. In order to achieve this engagement, a transmedia production will develop stories across multiple forms of media in order to deliver unique pieces of content in each channel. Importantly, these pieces of content are not only linked together (overtly or subtly), but are in narrative synchronization with each other.

I still don’t think this is new. Way back during my Greenpeace days (last millennium) this is what we learned about how building and promoting the Greenpeace brand and the brands of the different campaigns that we managed. And we had a lot of stories to tell. We just did not have the variety and diversity of modern communication technology and digital platforms. This leads me to the conclusion that in principle the approach is not new, the mindset has been around for decades, but the complexity of available channels confronts us with new challenges around the question how to build a consistent brand.

What do you think?

3 Gedanken zu “What is new about «transmedia storytelling and branding»?

  1. I think what might be new, is that you don’t only „tell“ stories. The interaction allows you to become part of a common story, a bigger picture in which you or your brand only play a small role or bring a specific perspective into the picture. They aren’t your stories, but the stories of people around us. Stories evolve in discussions. You can „pick“ up stories, that suit to your brand. It’s about listening an perhaps retelling stories on your style. But again, that’s quite old as well… Probably more than a millenium 😉

    1. I totally agree. But real stories have always been evolving stories. Otherwise they are boring or irrelevant. This supports your statement „more than a millenium“. And you can also read it in my first book, published in 2003, ten years ago.

  2. Cool words on Aristotlean story and the heroic monomyth applied to real life and business! You’ll enjoy the Hero’s Journey Mythology / Marketing/ Branding words and videos here:



    1. The Ordinary World: You awake each day to the routine, rise, and leave your dreams behind.

    Blog your dream. Set it down in a notebook. Take ownership in your ideas with blogger.com or wordpress.org.

    2. The Call to Adventure: A more vivid dream–a flash of inspiration. You can’t shake the feeling–the wave is real, though they can’t see it.

    Register those copyrights. File that provisional patent. Register that trademark. Voyage on out to your bookstore and cruise the section on entrepreneurship. Check out the USPTO. Read the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution–they were written for you.

    3. Refusal of the Call: Voices tell you that you aren’t good enough. Friends, parents, teachers, bosses, and your own internal voice.

    Seek mentorship from those who have done, for they will say, „yes you can.“

    4. Meeting the Mentor: With newfound energy you seek mentorship–you turn to the Great Books & Classics–The Odyssey & The Inferno–Shakespeare & The Bible, Franklin, Lincoln, Jefferson, and Martin Luther King Jr.

    Mentorship surrounds us. Wisdom comes from all walks of life. So listen, watch, and read. And then read some more–for those books which have lasted have lasted via the profound mentorship they provide.

    The USPTO has resources dedicated to artists, musicians, authors, and creators.

    Nolo.com has wonderful books for artists, authors, and creators. Two of my favorites are Patent it Yourself and Patents, Trademarks, and Copyrights.

    5. Calling the Bluff: Nobody knows the hand you hold. And you can’t see theirs. But it seems–yes–they’re bluffing. So you call ‚em and raise ‚em, and you let them see the .45 revolver by your side–the Truth of the Great Books and Classics. You’re going to surf that dream on home.

    Dr. E added the „calling the bluff“ stage to Campbell’s outline. You gotta call the postmodern bluff. Postmodern Wall Street transfers the risk to you and the wealth to themselves. Postmodern academia sells expensive degrees that often don’t teach much of value, instead teaching the exact opposite, opposing classical entreprneurship. Postmodern politics and literature have replaced plot and character with hype, and Hollywood has replaced Epic Story with reality TV and remakes of seventies sitcms.

    Call the bluff, live the renaissance, and vast wealth will be yours.

    6. Crossing the Threshold: And so you set out, crossing that point of no return. You have no choice but to succeed. Once you’re on that wave, you’ve got but one choice–ride it.

    Suddenly the words of the Greats take on a new, more immediate meaning. Watch Braveheart, The Matrix, The Outlaw Jose Wales, and A Fistful of Dollars. Take those ideals off the silver screen, take them out of the books, for ideals are most useful tools in reaching your most valuable assets–your passions and dreams.

    Incorporate at bizfilings.com. As of today, you are your own business, and you can take Mark Cuban’s investment advice–„invest in You, Inc.“

    7. The Road of Trials: It ain’t easy out here. Some statistics say that 90% of small businesses fold in five years. An infitesimal percentage of novels are published and screenplays optioned. But you do it anyway, as did everyone who ever suceeded. So you patent it, trademark it, copyright it, and live it.

    „Every fighter has a plan,“ Mike Tyson once said, „until they get hit.“ But that’s the joy of battle–for out here alone do we ever find our true constitution–our ability to innovate and think on our feet, and still prevail. So follow your dream, and tell the world, „My name is __________.“

    8. Tests, Allies, Enemies: Even when your business is launched, when your screenplay is being produced, there will yet be those forces that oppose and sabotage. But too, loyal friends will emerge, and a Fellowship will form.

    And you shall find those best of friends that one only finds away out here, along this journey–they too left the ordinary world long ago and set off to follow their ideals, and Destiny brought you together.

    9. Supernatural Aid: Away out here, something magical happens. A stroke of luck that only means something because of the risk you took. You took a chance, called the bluff, and caught the wave just right. So it is that „God helps those that help themselves.“

    Open source software, in all its robust freedom, can provide that seemingly supernatural aid. Software is labor immortalized, and open source has bestowed us with not only LAMP (Linux, Apache, MYSQL, PHP/PYTHON/PERL/RUBY) servers, but it offers free and robust solutions for ecommerce, content management, blogging, alubum hosting, and more.

    Fantastico allows for the quick and easy installing of leading open source spplication such as wordpress (blogging), joomla/drupal/postunke (content management), and cubecart/oscommerce/zencart (ecommerce). Hostgator accounts come with Fantastico and the intuitive cpanel interface. Also check out hotscripts.com for more free software.

    Don’t be afraid to get under the hood and „teach yourself“ linux/php/mysql/apache in ten minutes, twenty-four hours, or fourteen days–you know those books. Hard work and studious industry is the best supernatural aid there is!

    And now it’s your turn to give someone a break–to provide trusting mentorship. Should you ever find yourself waiting around to be helped, reach out and help someone–give ‚em a break.

    10. Stringing the Bow/Seizing the Sword: Degrees, money, and titles mean little out here–victory goes to those with integrity–those with honor, courage, and commitment. For ideals alone can string eternity’s bow.

    Ideals are your most valuable asset–they are those entities which inspired those dreams that awoke you long ago–the dream that haunted your days, always beckoning you to embark on this journey.

    11. The Showdown/Ordeal: It’s been a long time coming. You just wanted to live in peace and harmony, but that boss/bureaucrat/outlaw antagonist just wouldn’t let you. But you call them out, and now you get to stand toe-to-toe; face-to-face with a new book, or invention, or film, or venture that serves the world in a better way.

    So often it is that entrepreneurship is opposed. „No good deed goes unpunished.“ Socrates and Jesus were sentenced to death for seeing a better way and speaking the simple truth to power. Steve Jobs was kicked out of Apple. Read Richard Branson’s biography, and you will see the hundreds of showdowns he partook in.

    12. Rescue From Without/The Resurrection: So often it is that just as one wins, the jealous bureaucracy moves in to seize control. In every Western, after our hero wins the showdown fair and square, yet another Outlaw draws a bead on him–to shoot him in the back.

    Jobs was kicked out of Apple, but then brought back to take it to new heights. Richard Branson lost Virgin Records, but was reborn in Virgin Airlines and a thousand other ventures. John C. Bogle founded Vanguard upon the ideals set forth in his Princeton Senior Thesis, and now he pens inspirational books and speeches based on those very same ideals. Every entrepreneur ought read Battle for The Soul of Capitalism, as it reminds us that entrepreneurship’s greater purpose is to serve.

    Those who live by ideals have no need to fear death, as Socrates realized, for the soul is immortal. Though some bureaucracy rejects the implementation of your ideals, they can’t steal nor kill those ideals–for America recognizes the entrepreneur’s rights.

    13. The Road Back/Return with the Elixir/Freedom: You took ownership in your dreams and destiny–you called the bluff and caught the wave, and the Truth set you free.

    You added to the wealth of the world–the long-term wealth of the world–via the simple act of following your passions and dreams.

    And everything you learned on this Hero’s Journey will come in handy along tomorrow’s journey–we’re setting out at dawn.


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