The power of the innovation story: how did something as mundane as an elevator inspire 600,000 clicks and thousands of conversations?

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In the run-up to the #BecauseInnovation Storytelling Lab, Cori and I share a favourite case study of multi-platform storytelling on social media. We’re very excited to partner with diffferent, a strategy agency for brand leadership and innovation in the digital era, who are hosting this session in Berlin.

Every corporation wants to embrace an agile approach to storytelling but more often than not, their campaigns are a brief moment of glory in a very crowded space. So how did ThyssenKrupp, a conservative German multinational, create an online narrative about elevators that’s been going strong for three years? We take a look at their multi-platform digital ecosystem which is a compelling business-case for any organisation that wants to maintain brand integrity whilst adopting innovative approaches to storytelling.

When we first saw the video, the cynic in us immediately cringed at the flashy graphics and cliché voiceover. But halfway through the video, the story kicks in — the brand isn’t dictating their version of the future, they’re inviting you to imagine it with them, all with a fantastic soundtrack to boot. The clever use of What Ifs..? draws in the audience.

It’s what has happened since the video was uploaded in 2014 that’s really contributed to the success of their innovation story. Look at the comments under the video, which was refreshed in 2017. Of course, this too, like everything on YouTube, has its fair share of angry rants, but there are a lot of people debating the What If questions.

Who does this innovation story belong to?
This leads us to an important point — who does this innovation story belong to? This narrative has many versions, with each one belonging to a different author, be it the video producer, the organisation and their employees who’ve contributed (incidentally, the music was a hit and released as a free download). If you visit Reddit, you’ll see that this story also belongs to the YouTuber Tom Scott, who shares his excitement about being invited by ThyssenKrupp, “an elevator company saying, come and see our Multi Elevator that actually goes sideways.” Tom’s video, with nearly a million views, allows the organisation to showcase more of its talent, who openly talk about risk and share their innovation journey in real-time!

ThyssenKrupp could not have foreseen the impact of this story on social media, yet, they were responsive when the video received over 600,000 views in the first fortnight. This approach exemplifies the three elements that we believe are vital to any innovation story — people, context and conversations.

We discuss this in detail and look at more strategies to create compelling innovation stories in our workshop in Berlin on September 21st. We’re very excited to partner with diffferent, a strategy agency for brand leadership and innovation in the digital era, who are hosting this session. Join us in Berlin to create your innovation story!

We look forward to meeting you.

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On August 11, 2017
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