Using narrative in creative content.

Recently, I was invited to watch a photo shoot of a dear friend being reinvented as a pin-up era-esque mermaid.

She didn’t have to do a thing, other than put her game face on and perform like any glamour model or actress in the 1940’s would…(see, dreams can be realised any day of the week).

The shoot’s director, Cheech Sanchez, known for her love of Rockabilly, tattoos and pin-up modelling (preferably all together) is a photographer, designer and marketer who also won the 2011 Australian National Pin-Up title.

Together with her make up artist, Sanchez created a scene complete with costume, an Ariel style red mane, props and even…. a storyline.

And the story went a little bit like this:


Once upon a time, there was a mermaid who was so alluring, even small children became enraptured with her whimsical beauty. Then one day, while basking in summer’s dreamy dusk on a rock not far from shore, she was taken and sold to a circus in town. It was in the circus, where the mermaid felt doomed to spend the rest of her days, forced to showcase her beauty on stage for all to see and enjoy, with not a moment’s thought for her own waning desire to live the rest of her life this way.

As I observed Sanchez attending to each little detail, styling my mermaid-friend’s wig, scattering hay around the base of a small wooden trough that was to be the venue for my friend’s poor bottom (and now I know why they say modelling is “really hard work”). Lights, camera – and pose after pose was captured, while I sipped champagne and marvelled at how the narrative is really what delivered the shoot. The narrative, as told by Sanchez, through her styling, her creative direction and through my friend as a damsel in distress, that far away look in her pretty green eyes.

The narrative is what informed the overall look and feel of this shoot and as the end result demonstrates, is what lingers in the viewer’s mind as more of a symbol or a sense of what the image stands for than the image itself.

A creative narrative is the real juice behind content published online. When forming your content strategy, ask: what is the thread of your story? Consider your key brand messages and incorporate the voices of those in your organisation who can share anecdotes or specialised knowledge. The idea is to keep that thread in all content published and over time, bring in new aspects that may tell a different side of your story, shedding light and touching minds in new ways. Let the ideas linger in the minds of your audience, leaving them better engaged over time.

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Image credit: Yiseol Kenworthy, Flickr Creative Commons.