The introduction to Magda was the first step of my journey through the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. What happened after that was nothing short of amazing.
Visiting the museum was my daughter’s choice. Outwardly, I agreed wholeheartedly to include it in our D.C. visit itinerary. Inwardly, however, I felt a bit snobbish. After all, I had been to Dachau, the first concentration camp in Germany. What more could a museum in the United States offer after I had visited the real thing?
It turns out, quite a bit.
The Holocaust Memorial Museum offered an incredible multimedia user experience. It began with each visitor receiving an identification booklet detailing the story of a real life survivor, like Magda. Immediately thereafter, visitors are ushered to a cold metal elevator to begin the experience.
What follows is a multi sensory experience. It’s storytelling at its finest. Through news reels, photographs, music and voices, you begin to understand the gullible nature of an indigent nation that was desperate for hope and easily swayed by the spellbinding promises of Hitler propaganda.
One floor below, you enter the “camps” and the chaos begins. You can actually feel the hopelessness; the fear and humiliation of the prisoners as you walk among their confiscated belongings, see their camp-issued uniforms, experience their living conditions and see hundreds of artifacts. I swear I even caught a whiff of death when I walked through the train car that carried prisoners to the camp.
At the end of the exhibit, visitors can light a candle to remember victims. I lit one in honor of Magda. She was my daughter’s age when she was a prisoner.
That trip was several weeks ago, but not a day has passed without thinking of Magda. The atrocities. And the user experience created by museum curators.
This is the kind of experience we aim to design for our clients, isn’t it? Thankfully we don’t have to share this sober story; but it is stories we are after. And every company—every brand—can have a story.
Think of Nike. They’ve evolved their brand to inspire ordinary, everyday athletes to achieve greatness. Their collective story is made up of lots of individual stories.
Red Bull makes its customers feel adventurous by inserting them into its story.
You don’t need to be a national brand with unlimited marketing budgets to tell a story. When the Flint Group works with an organization to create a communications plan, a website and/or a social media strategy, it’s all about telling a story. It’s about making that brand personal and therefore preferred by the user.
There’s power in stories, to be sure. And they’re most effective when you insert your customer into the experience. Can you think of a story that’s moved you as much as the Holocaust museum touched me?