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Storytelling 2.0: The Evolution of PaperplaneCo

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Every story requires change to move the plot along. Change is what keeps the readers—as well as the characters—on their toes.

The PaperplaneCo story is no exception. We are on the brink of change, but before we look ahead, let’s revisit the past to understand what led us here. 

Stories for a New Generation of Children

PaperplaneCo was born shortly after the iPad in 2011.  We were so excited by its potential that we built a business around it.

What we saw in this new medium was an opportunity to create stories that read, and played, like games and would encourage kids to fall in love with reading again.

Our first products were interactive storybooks designed from the ground up for the iPad. They told tales of quirky and unique characters, beautifully illustrated, with animation and interaction woven through the pages. We embedded mini games throughout each story to work with, instead of distracting from, the storyline.  We brought each story to life with colour, sound and play.

PaperplaneCo quickly grew into a full-fledged business. We released four story apps in our first two years, all of them made it to the iTunes’ New & Noteworthy, with one story making it to the Top Ten charts.  

Stories for a New Generation of Enterprise

At the time, “storytelling” as an approach to marketing was also gaining momentum within enterprise.  As our reputation for storytelling began to grow, so did requests to take on commercial commissions.

There was substantial demand for our brand of storytelling based on truth, authenticity and human insight.  Social media was changing the marketing landscape. Brands were being held accountable for their claims. Customers were finding their voice and for the first time, brands were compelled to have dialogues instead of monologues, with their customers. 

Forward-thinking companies were responsive of this shift and started to tune their communication accordingly.

Prior to PaperplaneCo, Chrissy Lim, our founder, had been working with software giant SAP on enterprise mobility initiatives.  They also began to commission us for corporate storytelling. One of the first videos they commissioned was designed to move the conversation away from the practicalities of what their technology could do, to how it could help their customers.  The video was called “Connections” and you can read the impact story here. SAP still play the video to this day.

From Things to People

One of the reasons the SAP video “Connections” was so successful was because we shifted the conversation from things to people. This shift was fundamental. Traditional advertising had been all about things. Things that would make up for deficiencies in our audience. They weren’t good-looking enough. Thin enough. Successful enough. And this thing would fix it. 

This ad is a classic!

Today, our clients have conversations with their customers. Sure, they still talk about their products and services. They always will. The difference is: their messages don’t patronise people. They can’t get away with it anymore.

“Connections” also recognised another fundamental shift: customers weren’t a homogenous group of people with the same needs, desires and characteristics.  They were individual and unique, and expected to be treated as such. 

We learned so much from this experience and will always honour our first clients – Jamie, Nicholas and Johann –  as well as the agency partners we collaborated with – Possible Worldwide – for the courage to take this chance with us.

The Ten Commandments of Storytelling

In the last ten years, we have started dozens of conversations that connect brands with their audience for organisations like Magento, The World Bank, Bayer, Ping An and Clear.

We’ve come to realise that there are 10 Commandments of Storytelling based on the founding principle of having honest conversations with your audience:

Be Real
Be Human
Be Relevant
Don’t Be Boring
Be The Expert
Respect Your Audience
Feel Their Pain
Solve the Problem
Keep It Simple
Prove It

We’ll explore these principles in detail in a future post but take our word for it – when we stick to these 10 Commandments, our messages hit home.

From Starting to Sustaining Conversations

We’re fortunate to have great clients and relationships that are very collaborative. We’ve created so many wonderful stories together, and started some great conversations with their customers.

But relationships aren’t built over a single conversation. Understanding your customer enough to start an engaging conversation with him/her is just the first step.  To create a lasting connection, the conversation needs to be sustained over time because what your customer needs changes over time.

We’ve all heard of omnichannel and customer experience (CX).  CX is not about closing a sale faster or at a lower cost. It’s about creating value for that customer in a way that feels personal and relevant. It’s about being helpful, being useful and being of service.

This is often a moving target since customers don’t stand still. They are inundated with information coming from every device and media source. That’s why we think it’s important to tune in to what they need at a specific point in time, and address it then and there.  

Every touchpoint is a stepping stone towards building a lasting relationship, and we help by creating meaningful content every step of the way.

The Importance of Relationships

Over time, we’ve found that there are certain values that resonate. Long-term relationship building is at the top of that list. It doesn’t matter if it’s between client and customer, or client and agency, or agency and employee.  We’re happier in long-term relationships.

Research agrees – acquiring a new customer can cost between five to twenty-five times more than retaining an existing customer.

We’ve always worked as an extension of our clients’ companies. We are partners. We are invested in their success.  Just as we believe that brands exist to serve their customers, we believe that our purpose is to be of service to our client first and foremost, and their company by extension. 

We serve people, not companies.

We feel the same way about our creative partners too. We are invested in their success because we firmly believe that a great business is built on the happiness of the people who support it. We strive to provide our partners with security, community, purpose and mutual growth.  In return, they invest their genius in the work. And it shows.

You can learn more about our values and our team on our new website.

A New Chapter: Creating Content for Effective Customer Journeys

Telling great stories will always be close to our heart and this will never change.  But a tale is only as good as its plot, so we’ve added new products and services that will enable us to tell better, more meaningful stories.

We have designed a new Customer Journey mapping workshop to uncover new pathways to your commercial goals and identify the stories that matter to your audience. Using proprietary tools and an innovative whiteboard game, we bring company departments together and break communication silos down with play. 

We conduct content audits (think mystery shopping for content) across your customer journey for a specific audience segment to identify gaps that need to be plugged.

Then we take these insights and craft narratives that illuminate your brand by connecting your purpose to your customer’s. 

Using powerful, visual storytelling techniques, we bring this narrative to life in magical ways that will delight customers across any channel and any format. 

Finally, we continue working with our clients to track progress, learn, and grow towards repeatable, measurable success.

A New Crew

Saving the best for last – we also welcome a new core team of wonderfully talented individuals, all experts in their field, to serve and inspire the companies that we work with.

We believe in hybrid vigour and the excellence that diversity and open innovation brings.  We have 27 partners from 15 countries with a 46/54 % male/female split across a global value chain.

We don’t believe in hierarchies and are building a new workflow that will place power in the hands of those closest to the job, instead of those closest to the top.

All this means a nimble, incredibly agile, happy and fulfilled workforce. 

Because the happier we are, the better we are.

We look forward to introducing all of you personally to the team, and working on many more exciting projects to come! 

Chrissy Lim Creative Director

Chrissy founded Paperplane to bring together the promise of creativity and technology to celebrate stories in an age of new media. The interplay of disciplines is where Chrissy thrives, and where the classic paper plane gains its charm: a humble sheet of paper transformed through engineering and imagination. Photographer, scuba diver, inveterate foodie, Chrissy carries it all off with child-like enthusiasm.