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When Storytelling Becomes Serious!

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Stories are the core of our development as human beings. Ever since we are born, we learn and understand the world through stories. Stories help developing minds decode the world much easier. There is validated research to show that humans remember and recall information told in story form better than any other form of communication. This is no secret! Brands have been using stories to create brand connect for ages. Even our most common soap opera came from the desire to tell stories and to sell brands.

The marketing fraternity is constantly in a race to tell the most engaging stories to build long lasting impact. They use interesting and innovative characters, engaging plots, and poetic narratives, all in a simple effort to increase brand awareness and recall. The cool part about story telling is that we can exaggerate, create imaginary scenarios and tie the most unrelated stories to a brand with literary ease. But every once in while, communication consultancies get to work on a story that can change lives. Stories that can make miracles come true. This is where you cannot exaggerate nor create imaginary situations. This is where storytelling gets serious.

We had an opportunity last year to work on such a story: Kimaya. This product application, developed by Josh Software in association with KEM Hospital (Pune), was developed to curb the neonatal mortality rate in the country. In the past, doctors working in neonatal intensive care units (NICU) of hospitals would manually calculate the right nutritional mix for premature infants; this calculation would then be passed on to the dietician to create the nutritional mix for intravenous therapy for the neonate. This process had much room for error, and the Kimaya innovation looked to make the process precise. Creating a story for this brand was more serious than brand recall, but the opportunity to change lives!

Apart from merely an engaging narrative, various other aspects of the story need to be considered. For starters, a story has to be told at the right time. A place that can ensure the story is connected with and shared again and again to create a maximum impact. This story was first told at the country’s largest medical conference held in Patna each year: NeoCon. Sharing the story here ensured it was heard by the right people, and more importantly, retold to the right audience, the NICUs across India. This story had a strong consumer connect, and apart from only sharing it with hospitals, it was important the society knew about this. The Kimaya story was evolved to one, which gives hope for a miracle. By understanding the mindset of parents with a premature infant, it was narrated through the media to create a pull factor for this application being used across the country.

A story is not enough. The medium, through which the story is told, and the storyteller are as important to the impact. We wanted the best storytellers to tell this story so apart from the consumers and doctors, we shared this story with some of the most renowned medical organizations in the world, namely UNICEF, WHO, Indian Academy of Pediatricians, & the Neonatal National Forum (NNF). Opening a dialogue with these associations and having them help us spread the story accelerated its penetration, and in part, its impact. We told the story through written word, video, and instigated conversations on social media platforms to ensure the story can be told from 140 characters to 1000 words to 5400 frames to 1 graphic.

But merely sharing the story at the right time, through the right mediums, and by the right people wasn’t enough. This is where the worth of the story came into action. A strong narrative can only be effective if it is relevant to us, and going back to our childhood, it can only create impact if it helps us understand things, find solutions, or gives us hope. This was the Kimaya story’s biggest achievement! It gave doctors a solution and parents a hope for a better tomorrow. The emotion of hope triggered the success of this story. The story of Kimaya.

The best stories help to start dialogue and debate. If a brand story can create a strong and relevant connect with its listener, it is sure to start a conversation. It turns listeners into storytellers. It was not the number of media impressions of the campaign, the hits on the website for registrations, or even the 22 hospitals around the country that signed up for this application that satisfied, but the one reader who wrote back to the editor after seeing the story with an emotional account of her own premature birth and how applications like this definitely change lives. Since its launch, the premature deaths have reduced by over 45%, just at KEM hospital, one of the largest NICUs in SE Asia, partly due to solutions such as this. This is what makes story telling truly worth it. A serious story with a serious impact!

Minal D’Rozario, Co-Founder-Director, Ideosphere Consulting Private Limited
**The Kimaya case study highlighted in the story recently was recognized with an Abby at the recent GoaFest 2015.

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Neeta Nair

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