Why brands should start paying attention to interactive storytelling.

You may have noticed that new media is already moving towards interactive and immersive designs that appeal to our five senses. From the metaverse to new developments in “XR” – cross reality or extended reality – these developing technologies will undoubtedly transform the way we perceive and interact with reality. If you’re curious about XR, Viget has a way of explaining it in simple terms.  

Successful marketers and brands are well aware of the “interactive” wave. By designing interactive experiences around their brand stories, they were able to make deeper connections with their audiences leading to improved brand likability and loyalty. 

Another key advantage of interactive design is that it enables brands to collect behavioural data from the audiences’ digital interactions, that can be analysed to predict future trends or refine UI/UX design. 

Now then, what is interactive storytelling?  

Storytelling is a means of communicating something to your audience using facts and narrative. It’s known to help audiences grasp abstract concepts and break down complex messages. Hubspot has written an extensive guide on how to pull off the art of storytelling for your brand. But here, we’ll keep the focus on storytelling’s interactive element.  

Interactive storytelling is the art of telling stories using social or collaborative technologies and features to entice your audiences to respond or react, this could be a tap, click, scroll, or written feedback. It improves engagement, encourages interaction, and creates meaningful dialogue between you, as a brand, and your audiences.  

To help us understand why interactive storytelling can be so effective and persuasive, let’s look at some of the challenges that are being created by evolving social dynamics and audience behaviours.  

Evolving social dynamics and audience behaviour  

Attention Span  

In the early 2000s, we learned that consumers’ attention span was 12 seconds. Fast forward 20 years, it’s down to just 8 seconds. The constant bombardment of new content has exhausted consumers’ attention. With more things to focus on, consumers are hardly willing to give brands more than a few seconds of their time. 


Consumer’s urge for control first became apparent with the launch of Netflix’s hit series, House of Cards in 2003. The streaming giant was working on a “binge-watch” model, which involved releasing entire series on the same day.  

Expectedly, viewers burned through the series in days. This sends a clear signal that they wanted control. Control over the content they want to see and when they want to see it. 

The “Experience Economy”  

A study suggests that 83% of consumers pay as much attention to how brands treat them as on the products they sell. Surprisingly, 73% of them are willing to pay more on brands they love. Introducing the “Experience Economy” where consumers seek experiences beyond products and services themselves. If brands want to be successful today, they must look past traditional ways to attract and retain customers and design compelling, personalised experiences.  

How interactive storytelling fits in  

Interactive storytelling connects with audiences by providing them with an experiential space, where they can fully immerse themselves and explore, interact, or sometimes make choices without real consequences. Unlike traditional forms of communication which tend to be more linear, interactive storytelling engages audiences at a much deeper level, encouraging them to think and act beyond what they normally do.  

How to use interactive storytelling?  

Here are a few examples of how successful brands have used interactive storytelling to reach their marketing objectives.  


“30 Species, 30 Pieces” is easily one of the most visually appealing interactive websites we’ve seen. It introduces audiences to a list of endangered animals through their digitally animated forms, supported by mouse over effects and videos. Collectively, they tell the stories of 30 endangered animals to raise awareness about their conversation and protection.  

“The Boat” is an interactive graphic novel masterpiece complete with immersive visual effects and roaring thunder environmental sound effects. Embark on a remarkable storytelling experience where you get to witness the hardships and triumphs of a Vietnamese refugee.  

It masterfully integrates different medium forms like text, sound effects and visuals to the point where audiences do not consciously realize that they are reading, listening, and visually interpreting scenes all at the same time. Each form contributes seamlessly to the story by feeding audiences with different, new information as the story progresses.  

“Nian Hua: Changing Times, Unchanging Aspirations” is our recent project that involved a physical installation being recreated in virtual reality. It takes the form of an educational tour to educate visitors about the culture, history, and creative treatment of traditional Chinese paintings. The VR exhibition features an outstanding 360 navigation, pop-up information, video references and an interactive “escape-room” game mechanic that encourages exploration and experimentation.  

A project which attempts to cast doubt about people’s interpretation of war and who they call “enemies”. This virtual reality story uses AR and VR to put visitors in a face-to-face confrontation with fighters from both sides in a war. This experience is designed to humanize those who have been viewed as the enemy without a platform to share their own stories. Using a VR headset or AR app, audiences get to experience what it’s like to live in someone else’s circumstances.

“Rebuilding Haiti” combines interactive storytelling, journalism, and choice-based gaming to give audiences coverage of the tragic aftermath in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. The project successfully drew audiences into the crisis by forcing them to make conscious choices in inconvenient situations, as they attempt to resolve problems like famine, homelessness, and poverty. This clever mechanic gave audiences control and influence over the story’s outcome.  

Back to you  

Interactive storytelling is a lot of work, but the potential benefits you can reap from it is unimaginable. Taking this further, if you are able to integrate unique but complementary interactive experiences from different medias like a website or an app, you have the potential to create a depth of experience that motivates content consumption from both new and loyal consumers alike. 

The future of communications is starting to look a whole lot more exciting; we can’t wait to see what marketers and creators like you and me can come up with in the following months and years to come. 

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