#78 Storytelling We Can Learn From
NEW SERIES ALERT: STORYTELLING SHOUTOUT
I’m launching a new series this week that a few of you have suggested and that has been on my mind. It expands our “Story Well Told” section into an entire post about Storytelling That Stands out. This will give us the chance to dive into stories of all kinds in a deeper way. If you have stories you love and want to share be sure to send me a note or leave your thoughts in the comments.
Have you ever just encountered a movie, or tv series, or brand, or person that just made you want to engage and spend time with them? That’s what we’re diving into with this series—how they do and why it affects how we feel about them. I’m still working through a name I love so if you have an suggestions, please reply to this or post in the comments.
I thought I’d start with a brand story since this is the place where I spend a lot of time thinking about storytelling and I have thoughts. Because I like to keep this a positive space I’ll only focus on people and brands doing a good job and will leave the criticism to someone else’s newsletter. This week I want to share the storytelling magic of a brand that has a quiet but important role to play in my life, Headspace.
What Is It?
A meditation app (a genre of app that has become popular over the past decade) that has evolved from a few online meditations led by their founder, Andy Puddicombe, to a full on content and story sharing mindfulness experience. The app is full of mindfulness resources, courses, and animated experiences. (Full disclosure: I’ve been meditating for many years so I mainly use it as a countdown app while taking advantage of specific courses from time to time).
Who’s Their Audience?
Beginners seeking to introduce more mindfulness into their lives and reduce stress but who may not know where to start. The app is set up to help you go from never having meditated to a mindfulness intermediate (or expert if we want to be ambitious for the brand). I don’t think someone deep in the world of mindfulness and spirituality will get as much out of it as a beginner—my practice has grown with the app which is a primary reason I remain a loyal user and share it with folks in my life trying to get into meditation.
What Makes Them Such Great Storytellers?
Consistency and accessibility, grounded in a clear mission. They seem to have a teaching-first approach to everything they do. They’ve set the app up as a resource that continues to grow without ever becoming overwhelming. The brand design (a bright, simple, animated aesthetic against a white backdrop) is consistent, playful, and hasn’t changed but has continued to evolve over the years. Their tone and manner is consistently grounded in being helpful and teaching and making mindfulness accessible. It’s allowed them to grow and continue to evolve over the years while being grounded in the effort to making the benefits mindfulness accessible to everyone (who can afford the subscription cost). Bottom line: It’s fun to wake up to and spend a few minutes with every morning and I always feel great afterward.
How Do They Bring it to Life? What Experiences Do They Create?
While the app has A LOT of content, they make it easy to navigate and not get too overwhelming. The experience they create is one that is about making mindfulness something we can all do. It’s not meant to intimidate but to guide you along a path toward expertise. My favourite of their offerings is a daily video in the app called “The Wake Up.” It’s a series that explores a range of topics or ideas in under seven minutes each morning. Anything from an Q&A with one of their teachers about anxiety to the lifecycle of a forest—it’s made to feed curiosity and open you up to a world beyond your own. They also have playful animations to help illustrate new meditation concepts to users.
Why do I love it?
How easy it is. It helps me stay consistent with my mediation practice while giving me access to additional tools (and stories) if I need them. I’m sure there are people out there who have tried everything they have to offer—that is not me, but what I have included in my own routine has been really helpful. I sometimes role my eyes at Andy (whose voice you come to know and recognize), but the earnestness and true desire to share this powerful thing (mindfulness) is so clear in every element of the experience which is why I love it.
Their Purpose (My Best Guess)
One of my favourite things to do when I encounter a brand I like is guess their purpose. My best guess for the headspace brand Purpose would be: Headspace exists to empower people to thrive and find joy in a stressful world. What they actually say:
What Can We Learn From Them?
Experience creation and consistent story evolution. This brand story (and the experiences they create within the app to build their story) has evolved through consistent effort and updates over time. They are clear on their mission and purpose and seem to make changes and updates to the experience grounded in that larger ambition and north star. This is a brand that is clear on who it is and what it’s here to do and creates positive experiences for its users based on that.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this new series and the brand storytelling highlighted today. What can you take from Headspace’s example and apply to your own story? Have you used the app and what do you think of it?
Quick note: This and future posts like it is by no means an endorsement for you to go out and use them. I hope they provide helpful examples of how stories can be told effectively in different arenas. I am their audience, so their storytelling resonates with me. One of the other meditation apps or sleep apps may be more your thing or none at all. But if you do use this one, let me know what you think of their approach to storytelling and creating connection and engagement through it.
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