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The majority of personal care, food, drink and even a bit of home care brands and their products are based on nature’s goodness. This ‘nature’s goodness’ is mostly featured in brand communication via photo-real images on packs and cutaway product windows in ads.  

Other visual codes associated with nature are well known. Most often they focus on the goodness and the purity of nature with a plea to safeguard and conserve nature. Without a doubt, these codes can be used to weave an impactful story and often they indeed are. 

But can the process of storytelling go any further? Adding just one or two layers to the narrative can sometimes deepen it and heighten the immersive value. 

How do you allow nature to take a backseat in the interest of the story occupying the foreground? The result can be much more organic because it will be closer to reality as we are all surrounded by nature. We go about our lives even as nature is omnipresent with its elements knowingly or unknowingly featuring in our stories. Let’s look at some interesting examples of more creative storytelling around nature.

We begin our discussion on storytelling nature with a literal storybook:

Godrej Group - The Last Cloud, Drop, Mangrove and Bee 

The digital book released on the occasion of World Earth Day features personified forms of its titular characters who are meant to converse with children. The direct plea for conservation is woven well into the story for the book’s targeted readers - kids. On a very basic level, the tale is about kids and their friends. 

Thus, for the kids per se, the experience of going through this digital book is not akin to simply going through a nature conservation pledge. In fact, the idea of a meaningful friendship is combined with the idea of conservation. The story is as much about protecting one’s friends as it is about protecting nature. 

What happens to the characterisation of nature when content is meant to cater to adults? 

Mybyk - Riverfront Stories 

Riverfront Stories is a Gujarati anthology of short stories that take place on the Sabarmati riverfront. As discussed briefly before, nature in Riverfront Stories recedes to the background as the universal human emotions and challenges are foregrounded. Nature is therefore like a perpetual companion that follows and even assists humans in their time of need. 

The riverfront is characterised by a constant silent presence in the background and thus its connection with the city dwellers is highlighted. While the anthology does quite nicely highlight the picturesque environs by the riverfront (and therefore, laterally contributes to the conservatory efforts), what is its relevance to the Mybyk brand? 

Considering Mybyk is a brand dedicated to green solutions for micro-mobility, the content in question not only laterally contributes to keeping the city green but also pitches the breezy riverfront as a location to avail Mybyk’s services! 

Vatika Naturals - Notes by Nature 

Notes by Nature was presented as the world’s first album by plants! And indeed, the tracks are by ‘artists’ such as a cactus plant, a lemon plant, an olive plant, etc. Slight variations in the leaves of this plant were especially captured via electrodes for the album. This unique amalgamation of technology and nature by Vatika is aimed at providing “nourishment to the mind”. 

Essentially, nature in Vatika’s lore is no more limited to a source of goodness and purity for their products. One, it is a character with a voice of its own self just like in Godrej’s digital storybook. Two, the potential use of album tracks for the purpose of meditation and exercise very nicely positions nature in an urban lifestyle that is located far from nature. It is in fact characterised as an artist.

Vatika’s innovative take on nature adds a new layer of meaning to nature for the brand particularly. Nature can not only be used to enhance one’s hair but also provide the ambience for mindfulness. 

The entire album is available on Spotify: 

Tata Tea Kanan Devan - Photography Escapade  

Photography Escapade is a reality show where contestants are taken to the scenic hills of Kanan Devan. Their task is to weave a story through their photos focusing on specific elements of nature depending on the stage of the competition.  

Usually, the brand connection is achieved through the effect that natural elements like wind and water have on tea leaves in the Kanan Devan plantation. Thus, nature is at one level characterised as a vital player in the Tata Kanan Devan Tea. 

But at a deeper level, nature is also akin to a pre-painted canvas where contestants (and by extension - humans) find their own stories and patterns. In other words, it is the oldest and most permanent storyboard for humans. 

So, what is our takeaway from these seemingly disparate pieces of branded content that all feature nature in their own way, nevertheless? 

The branded content pieces add to levels of meaning that we associate with nature. Yes, it is an extremely essential entity meant to be preserved for our own survival but it is also many other things. 

Nature here is part of the experience - immersive or adding value to the experience. The takeaway is not simply preaching/’gyaan’ about the very many virtues of nature. Nature is identified as a character in the background or an artist or better still as a storyboard from which humans borrow their own narratives. 

Pointers to newer, more creative ways of storytelling nature

It is quite well known that in order to find newer narratives around an already well-known theme, more investment of time is required. Insights from qualified researchers as well as local people can be of unmatched value at the ideation stage. This helps in bringing in new and much-required perspectives. For example - considering an urban cityscape, a park or an urban forest is at one level, of course, an effort towards conservation but it is also a space that witnesses human interactions and actions both. Deriving from that, nature in urban spaces can be characterised as a witness. 

Next, collaborating with skilled artists (such as photographers or music composers) can really enhance the impact and quality of one’s production.

Lastly, being actually in nature or close to it is important when trying to incorporate it into one’s story. Fabrication via sets or pre-recorded sounds might not cut it when one is aiming to create something organic. 

Therefore, brands can and may wish to find newer characterisations of nature that not only heighten interest, help produce unique pieces of branded content but also add to the many meanings of nature!