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?

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