aerial photography of city

Some ideas on city storytelling

Initially published at CAAC blog

Explained by Zideate, “as a marketing tactic, storytelling is based on the premise that people remember information better when it is told as a story rather than presented as a list of facts. This is largely because stories are more relatable and inspire an emotional reaction in an audience. Any marketing campaign that rouses an emotional response – whether it be empathy, sympathy, outrage or laughter – is more likely to be remembered”.

Annette Simmons (1) goes further and she narrows the possibilities to six types of stories adaptable to most product definitions so as to enclose the brand strategy:

  • Who Am I stories;
  • Why am I here stories;
  • The Vision stories;
  • Teaching stories;
  • Value in action stories;
  • I know what you are thinking of stories.

In his blog Smarter Storytelling, David Intrator also gives form to the stories, suggesting that:

  1. Stories move forward with intention and purpose.
  2. Stories set up a problem and then resolve it.
  3. Stories are held together by a unifying idea.

Can these ideas be put into practice and applied to cities? Does city storytelling have a sense? Yes. When placemaking meets communication, city storytelling is born.

The time of unidirectional official (boring) communication on urban planning is over. In an overconnected world, where competition among cities is constantly increasing, differentiation can not only come from branding. Every city is unique not only because of the facilities it has available, but also because of the facts that have composed its history, the emotions that have bound together its citizens and the “common ground” that continues to create community every day.

What story has your city to tell?

(1) Simons, Annette (2002), The Story Factor. Inspiration, Influence, and Persuasion through the Art of  Storytelling, New York, Basic Books.

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