The Tiger is Convenient Shorthand
In telling your brand’s story, two things matter most: concision and impact.
But the challenge is obvious - How does one tell a story in as few words as possible while achieving as much emotional connection as possible?
Hemingway (or so the legend goes) did it with his famous six word tragedy: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”
The point is to tell a big story in a small package. Sometimes that means finding an effective shorthand. In one such recent case, Greenpeace did just that.
From a Business Insider article titled “The Inside Story of How Greenpeace Built a Corporate Spanking Machine to Turn the Fortune 500 Into Climate Heroes,” author Aaron Gell recounts how, rather than weighing their audience down with wordy details that fail to evoke an immediate emotional reaction, Greenpeace considers what people care about first and start their strategic storytelling there.
"It's easy to say, 'If you're destroying forests, you're destroying tiger habitats,'" says Phil Radford, the outgoing executive director of Greenpeace USA (his replacement, Annie Leonard, was announced in April). "It's harder to say, 'Do you know that forests store carbon and if we save the peat bogs we will trap all this carbon and methane in the soil?' We say both, but we start with the place that people are, the thing they care about the most first."
When they spoke to people about destroying the forests that house tigers, that approach had more of an impact than discussing the depletion of peat bogs that store carbon and methane.
The tiger, an image that immediately resonates with audiences, becomes a shorthand for myriad problems resulting from deforestation. Audiences listen. And they act.
Considering what your audience cares about is the first step towards crafting a story that is efficient and poignant.