Imagine the embarrassment for us? We’ve been telling stories for approaching four years and although we’re acutely aware of the terms increasing use around us, we always thought that it pretty much summed up what we did, and clients’ have always commented on how well it fits what we do for them.
So being the kind of people who question everything around us most of the time, from big decisions about brand strategy to little decisions about what we’d like for lunch… we now find ourselves questioning our own name (thanks to Stefan).
The thing is, he’s right… 100% right. The term is being thrown around like it’s going out of fashion, and I can understand why too. It works, it’s accessible, people just get it. It’s so simple isn’t it? Nothing about leveraging brand values, nothing about integrated marketing campaigns, nothing about digital this or technical that… We can all understand stories because we’re spoon-fed them from birth. From Little Red Riding Hood to the Bible and everything in between, they’re everywhere, and people love them.
So why did we come up with this name anyway? This name that’s now getting a rough ride from creative peers we really like and respect? They say it makes you feel better when you write stuff down, so here goes:
1. We couldn’t use our surname as there’s already a really good brand design company called Thompson Brand Partners – and I should know because I worked there for several years (although I’m not related).
2. Hatching my plan for world domination over the years, I always liked the idea of referencing Magpies as they’re a strong part of my heritage from growing up in the North East, and they’re known for stealing shiny things – which I didn’t do but liked the reference to collecting interesting stuff. Anyway, that idea was blown out of the water when this bunch of very talented folk got there first… www.magpie-studio.com
3. We wanted a name that gave us something to hang our hat on, something to give our clients an idea of what we do without being too obvious. Of course, the flip-side is that there are big positives to using a name which doesn’t mean anything at all – you can be whatever you want with a shift in flavour every now and then.
But knowing all of this, we were still driven to use an idea and think of a name that meant something to us, and putting aside the physical/digital manifestations of what we do – the most important thing we sell is ideas.
4. Myself and Faye have always approached communication in a way where the viewer/audience can enjoy a steadily unfolding idea, quite often using wordplay. Expressing a single idea but using playful permutations – our ChicSeats project is probably a good example of this.
5. Finally, in my younger teenage years I had a girlfriend who was originally from Manchester, and so I was introduced to the Mancunian music stable which included the Stone Roses, Happy Mondays and the Charlatans. While my mates were listing to Vanilla Ice and New Kids on the Block, these bands were a prominent feature on our homemade BASF mix-tapes and I particularly liked the Charlatans – probably because they seemed very exotic with their floppy hair cuts and baggy jeans.
By the time I went to University in Leeds I still really liked their music which had become a bit more toothy as they tried to keep up with Britpop and the guitar band genre of the time (Oasis, Blur, etc). Anyway, one of my favourite songs to drunkenly sway along to was Tellin’ Stories and it always takes me back to a time when the world seemed very, very big…
If you’re still with us after a brief history of my questionable music tastes – the point I’m trying to make is that naming is probably the most difficult job we’re asked to do. Choosing ours was no exception, but calling ourselves Telling Stories just felt right for us and what we’re about.
And when it’s right, it’s right.
Written by David Thompson