Purpose in Storytelling- It's Different Than You Think

This week, we’re wrapping up our series on specific story elements. If you’ve been reading along with us for the past three weeks, you’ll know that we have talked about people, emotions, and location. Each of these topics has pertained to the science of storytelling in a specific way, and is unique to the process of building a meaningful experience for your viewer or customer. By combining characters, emotions, and location, you can round out the importance of a story’s Purpose, but also make your story serve a purpose. Those two things may sounds similar, but they are not the same.

Purpose vs. Purpose: One Word, Multiple Applications

We would like to submit that there are two different applications for the ‘purpose’ of a commissioned video for your business. We have split them up into the ‘P’urpose and the ‘p’urpose.

. Purpose- to reduce the idea of capital ‘P’ purpose down to its most basic parts, you could say that the overarching Purpose of commissioning a video for your business is advertising and brand recognition. Truthfully, though, the Purpose of a branded video (whether it be for internal or external purposes) is to lead your viewers or clients to a decision that you want them to make. For example, if you want to increase employee engagement, you may make a video that highlights how happy people are to work for your company and then show it to prospective staff so they can decide that you have a great work environment. While we like to think of ourselves as rational, well thought out people, much of our human decision making is based on emotions. By using the power of storytelling, we can tap into those emotions to show your intended audience what need your product service can fulfill for them.

. purpose- the lowercase ‘p’ purpose is a little bit more conceptual than the capital ‘P’ Purpose. When we talk about purpose in a video spot, we are talking about all the microscopic and macroscopic decisions that go into making a truly compelling video. These decisions include choosing to combine the elements of character, emotions, and location. It also includes lighting choices, camera choices, angles, and all the other elements of filmmaking that give a specific video purpose.

The Purpose of Character Development

If you take a look at our vimeo page, you’ll see that we often choose a specific character to focus on when telling a company’s story. Take the story of Dave Marlin, a flight nurse for Carolinas Healthcare. We shot a series of spots for Carolinas Healthcare that were all meant to increase employee retention and hospital loyalty. Through the course of the video we shot with him, you feel like you know Dave. You feel the excitement and uncertainty of his job, as he goes into work not knowing which patient he will be carrying in his medical helicopter that day. The Purpose of the video is to show other Carolinas Healthcare employees how meaningful their work is and how enjoyable it can be. By putting Dave front and center in the video, you offer the viewer an avatar into the life saving measures he himself goes to everyday of his job. This creates a deep sense of Purpose in the viewer. That if they choose to work for Carolinas, they could have as much satisfaction in their jobs as Dave does. The empathy this creates between the viewer and the company is personal and deliberate. By Dave being the main focus of the video, it creates a clear purpose. You feel that Carolinas Healthcare’s purpose is to take care of their employees. And that is a powerful thing.

The Purpose of Emotions

Let’s stick with Dave’s story since it is a video that uses both Purpose and purpose. Healthcare is by necessity an emotional thing. People’s lives hang in the balance of receiving the treatment they need in times of crisis. The feeling of suspense, anticipation, empathy, and gravity that is conveyed by showing Dave and his colleagues boarding their medical helicopter is tangible as you watch the video. Dave has a sense of urgency in rescuing people with his helicopter that is conveyed to the viewer in a very real way. The decisions to cut the video together in a certain way, to use Go Pro cameras, and use natural lighting all serve the purpose of making the story feel real and lifelike. Carolinas employees are meant to feel how important Dave’s job is, and how seriously he takes it. This forms a feeling of trust between Dave and the viewer. By emphasizing the emotional elements of the story, the viewer feels the Purpose of the video is not just to sell them on Carolinas Healthcare, but to show how serious the viewer’s employment could be to the company they see onscreen.

The Purpose of Location

The most important point about location in terms of making a video is transporting your viewer to a specific point in the story you want to tell. The more real and authentic a location feels to a viewer, the more they are able to put themselves into that space. In the case of Dave’s story, by seeing several shots of him in and around the helicopter, the viewer is transported into his daily life as a flight nurse. This puts the viewer literally inside the story (through something we like to call narrative transportation), and creates a sense of empathy for the place itself. In terms of purpose, by choosing to use locations intentionally as connection points for your viewer, you are communicating that the David’s location is important. If they are ever to work for Carolinas Healthcare, they will feel as if they’ve already been inside the space Dave occupies, which is the video’s Purpose.

At Rooted Content, we want our videos to both serve a purpose and to have Purpose. We believe that telling your brand’s story in an empathetic is the most important thing we can do for your business. By using the elements of character, emotions, and location we are able to convey your business’s story to the consumer. And that is a beautiful thing.