Here’s How Code and Theory Uses UX-friendly Digital Storytelling to Stay Relevant



Dan Gardner, Founder & CEO, Code and Theory, took the #SMWNYC to explore the building blocks required and the role storytelling plays in a digital transformation.

When it comes to social, storytelling is a powerful tool that brands should be utilizing more, to better engage their customers. But digital storytelling–and the way we tell stories–is ever-changing and therefore challenging. How can brands stay relevant and on top?

Digital-first creative agency Code and Theory is all about digital storytelling that manifests itself, Founder and CEO Dan Gardner tells audiences at Storytelling in a Digital Transformation.

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It’s a “progressive progress,” an opportunity to form a relationship with the viewer/consumer in ways companies haven’t before.

The key to storytelling in a digital transformation is to align distribution, user experience, and format together.

For example, streaming giant Netflix has shifted from a focus in competition to aggregating content and quality video distribution. In other words, Netflix reaches its audience to first and foremost meet their needs and interests–from romantic comedies to epic thrillers–and shaping how to tell stories around it.

Instagram is changing the way we shop

“Everywhere we go, distribution is changing the way brands engage with consumers and users,” Gardner says. It’s about “finding ways as a brand to take advantage of this shopping and large scale reach… ways to tell your brands’ stories, and where behaviors are changing out of normal. And this comes down to personalization — finding ways to tell the right stories at the right time, to the right person.”

When it comes to social media and retail, particularly for frequent online-shoppers, Instagram is king (or queen!).

According to Code and Theory research, one-third of Instagram users have bought an item of clothing they first saw on the app. Instagram’s impact is huge — and boutique brands have caught on.

Sneaker companies, for instance, have revamped the way they communicate to the ginormous online sneaker community in order to “build hype” through random sneaker drops nationwide.

Take the Yeezys, one of the most hyped-up sneaker brands by rapper/artist Kanye West, which often drops its latest creations at random, to a select audience. Local releases in cities from LA to Atlanta make the product drop feel more exclusive, thus building hype around the shoe and creating a stronger community.

Keeping it personal

It’s not just about building content, but maintaing the user experience and proper format around it. How users experience the content is just as, if not more important than the thing itself.

“Content without personalization is expensive proposition — when you dont have personalization, you’re paying for everyone,” said Gardner. “Storytelling moves from the idea of one to many. The idea of fandoms and community — this is how people connect with one another as well as the brand in a meaningful way.”

Live shows and events also prove to be great marketing tools, Gardner added, citing a recent Fortnite concert event featuring EDM DJ Marshmello. Looking at the numbers, the event had massive reach, but it was the interactive experience–video games, lights, music, augmented reality–that people will most remember.

Unlocking “brand infinity”

Digital distribution and storytelling is never static or obvious — it’s important to stay on top, in order to compete for audiences’ time and attention.

Where can companies provide memorable value to content and stories? Through user experience, Gardner says, the first gauge to “brand infinity.”

Storytelling in digital transformation involves combining smart distribution with proper user experience. Moving beyond the silos, because this creates fragmented marketing, and instead, thinking as the audience does — their interests and desires.

Storytelling is not linear: a brand’s story is in all of these interactions, both digital and in-person, with the consumer.

“There’s enough content in this world as it is… it’s the experience behind it, where you can provide the best service and tell the best story. That will help your brand ultimately stand out ultimately in the throng.”

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