Lipstick on a Pig

I was working in the office a couple weeks ago, trying out a really cool new technique I had found. I stared at my screen with excitement at the unbelievable design I had just invited forth. Then I noticed somebody peering over my shoulder. I heard a soft, “meh.” I turned around to see a guy in our office who isn’t in motion graphics. I said,

“What? You don’t think this is awesome?”

He paused and said, “It looks fine, but it doesn’t really resonate with me. You know…I don’t really care much unless it tells a good story.”

Then he walked away, leaving me to ponder my failed attempt at a career. I get so wrapped up in awesome looking design that I forget about the 99.9% of the people who will see it. They are not motion designers. They don’t really care that much if the video looks cool but doesn’t tell a story. Why is story so dang important? Stephen Denning said,

“Storytelling is natural and easy and entertaining and energizing. Stories help us to understand complexity. Stories can enhance or change perceptions. Stories are easy to remember…and engage our feelings…Storytelling enables individuals to see themselves in a different light, and accordingly take decisions, and change their behavior in accordance with these new perceptions, insights, and identities.”

I think it’s easy to watch tutorials and learn techniques and master programs. What we’re missing in education and school and when we get wrapped up in our craft, is the art of telling a story. The techniques and skills we own are a vehicle to tell good stories, and that should always be our focus.

After all, “Amazing design that doesn’t tell a story is like putting lipstick on a pig.”

(Who said that? I did. I made that crap up. And you should write it down.)

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