A story without beats is the fastest way to make people fall asleep. (That was not meant to rhyme. Just putting it out there.) In fiction books or movie scripts, writers define a beat as the smallest unit of a story — something that happens that causes a reaction.
If the Titanic had been merely a fabulous ship reaching port in one piece, there would have been no story.
As corporate storytellers, we look at marketing as having beats too. A beat is an interaction — something that happens that causes a reaction. Your hero headline on the homepage creates desire. The visitor clicks on the call-to-action to learn more. There’s a beat. The average movie has about 40 beats. The average homepage? Anybody’s guess. BUT, strive to have beats throughout.
Here’s the big WOW: a great brand story is one long string of beats — one interaction that leads to the next one.
Fun fact: the typical movie has about 40 beats in it. Less beats slows the action. More beats can keep you on the edge of your seat. Now switch the perspective to your story. Thinking in terms of beats, instead of mere content, changes everything. Website content becomes a path of engagement, sales decks become dialogue, and videos morph inspire action.
Our own lives have beats. Our own lives are one scene built upon another, conversation that evoke action, surprises that lead to unexpected roads. Our own story does not magically appear. You went from point A to point B, maybe even to point Z (thank you, alphabet, for having 26 of you). It’s never easy. The path was littered with fear and angst. But it was worth it because it landed you here, wherever here is — from one interaction after another.
There are many stories behind a company. How you saved the day for a customer. Why your company does what it does. Your vision for an amazing world. Your founder story.
Showing your stories to the outside world should captivate people in the same way you feel entranced watching a great movie. Stories are one-part emotion and one-part authoritative. People buy on emotion and justify the purchase with underlying authority or facts. The beats in the story keep the emotion and the relationship moving forward.
Consider your story one of your biggest unfair advantages — one thing that others don’t have and cannot copy.
Let’s end with the words from one of the most famous film director’s of all time: Frank Capra: “There are no rules in filmmaking. Only sins. And the cardinal sin is dullness.”
Now, take your brand story to breathtaking heights.