The relevance of traditional literary theory for brand storytelling in the South African context

Turner, Talbot (2021-03)

Thesis (MCom)--Stellenbosch University, 2021.

Thesis

ENGLISH SUMMARY: In this thesis the scholarship and discourse about storytelling from the field of literary theory was consulted as point of departure for understanding what “good stories” entail. Since the time of Aristotle’s The poetics, literary theorists have devoted themselves to advancing the field of storytelling and are therefore considered to be the authority on storytelling. Brand storytelling does not necessarily have the same goal as literary storytelling but is rather focused on building the brand and having a positive impact on the consumer. Therefore, the triadic perspective that is implemented in this study is important. It includes (1) the consumer’s self, (2) the brand, and finally (3) storytelling. The literature pertaining to each of the three perspectives in the triadic perspective are covered in Chapters two to four. These relationships have yet to be explored together in the marketing literature. Through these efforts, this thesis was able to contribute to improved brand storytelling in the South African context with the establishment of the purpose of brand storytelling as well as the use of the storytelling aesthetic elements present in the literary theory discourse to achieve its purpose through consultation of experts and exemplar case studies. Through this endeavour, this thesis uncovered the relevance of literary theory for brand storytelling in the South African context. Chapter 5 introduced the methodology employed in this study. A qualitative methodology was used in a social constructivist epistemology. Unstructured, in-depth interviews with experts were undertaken in three fields of inquiry, namely in psychology (to understand the consumer from the perspective of the self), storytelling (to understand what good storytelling entails), and brand storytelling (to relate the knowledge gained to the world of brands). The interviews were analyzed using an inductive thematic analysis. Further, exemplar South African brand storytelling case studies were considered in a deductive within-case content analysis. Findings uncovered from in-depth interviews yielded a number of thematic categories that were later grouped into broader themes: 33 categories from the psychologist interviews (abstracted to six themes); 36 categories from the interviews with South African storytellers (abstracted to six themes), and 36 categories from the interviews with brand storytellers (abstracted to seven themes). These findings are presented in Chapter 6 and 7. From this abstraction, the findings were considered in Chapter 8 with reference to the theory explored in the literature review. Managerial implications, the limitations of the study, and recommendations for future research were also presented. The major contribution of this thesis is the discovery of the critical role of the cathartic experience in storytelling and brand storytelling. Also, the triadic approach followed in the research. This study further made six theoretical contributions, specific to the purpose of storytelling and how to evaluate brand storytelling efforts. This study also made five managerial contributions that suggest how brand storytellers can direct their storytelling effort to be in line with the purpose of brand storytelling, as well as the means to achieve that purpose.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: In hierdie tesis is die vakgebied en diskoers oor storievertelling uit die veld van die literere teorie as vertrekpunt geraadpleeg om te verstaan wat “goeie stories” behels. Sedert Aristoteles se Die digkuns (The poetics) het literere teoretici hulle gewy aan die bevordering van die terrein van storievertelling en word hulle dus as die gesaghebbendes op die gebied van storievertelling geag. Handelsmerk storievertelling het nie dieselfde doel as storieverteling nie, maar is eerder gerig daarop om die handelsmerk te bou en om ’n positiewe impak op die verbruiker te he. Daarom is die drieledige perspektief wat in hierdie studie gebruik word belangrik. Dit sluit in (1) die verbruiker se self, (2) die handelsmerk, en laastens (3) storievertelling in. Die literatuur wat op elk van hierdie drie perspektiewe betrekking het, word aangespreek in Hoofstuk 2 tot 4. Hierdie drie perspektiewe en moontlike verwantskappe is nog nie voorheen saam in die bemarkingsliteratuur ondersoek nie. Die oorweging van die drie perspektiewe tergelykertyd het daartoe bygedra dat hierdie studie ’n bydrae tot verbeterde storievertelling in die Suid-Afrikaanse storievertelling milieu kon lewer – die bepaling van die doel van handelsmerk-storievertelling, die plasing van storievertelling estetiese elemente uit die literere konteks binne-in die bemarkingskonteks en die primere navorsing in die verband het alles deel gevorm vandie studie se bydrae. Hoofstuk 5 beskryf die metodologie wat in hierdie navorsing gevolg is. ’n Kwalitatiewe metodologie met ’n sosiale konstruktivistiese epistemologie is gebruik. Ongestruktureerde, in-diepte onderhoude is gevoer in drie velde van ondersoek, naamlik in sielkunde (om die verbruiker uit die perspektief van die self te verstaan); storievertelling (om te verstaan wat goeie storievertelling behels); en handelsmerkstorievertelling (om die kennis wat opgedoen is, in verband te bring met die wereld van handelsmerke. Die onderhoude is ontleed deur middel van ’n induktiewe tematiese benadering. Voorts is gevallestudies met enkele Suid-Afrikaanse handelsmerk-storievertelling in ag geneem in ’n induktiewe ontleding van die inhoudelike van sodanige gevalle. Die bevindings wat uit die in-diepte onderhoude verkry is, het ’n aantal tematiese kategoriee opgelewer wat later in breer temas gegroepeer is: 33 kategoriee uit die onderhoude met sielkundiges (later saamgevat in ses temas); 36 kategoriee uit die onderhoude met Suid-Afrikaanse storievertellers (later ook saamgevat in ses temas); en 36 kategoriee uit die onderhoude met handelsmerk-storievertellers (saamgevat in sewe temas). Hierdie bevindings word in Hoofstuk 6 en 7 aangebied.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/110323
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