Thursday, October 23, 2014

Brands and Storytelling

Recently, I was drawn in again by a street person’s story. It is not the first time. If the story is good enough, it tugs on your heartstrings. While, as a marketer, I am always leery of being taken in by total fiction, at the same time, if the story is good enough, it doesn’t even matter if it is true. It has entertained me. I give the person some money. Several times a week my wife and I get phone calls from various not-for-profit and political organizations asking for contributions. Again, there are stories. What will happen if they don’t get enough money. What will happen if they do. The telephone solicitors are scripted to paint a compelling picture with words. Don’t religious leaders do the same thing? How many of Jesus’ parables are recounted in the Bible? And there are Hindu and Buddhist and Native American and Taoist and Sufi and Hebrew parables and stories. I can’t think of a religion or a culture that doesn’t have its stories. I even hear stories from people who want to sell me investments, stories of people getting rich. They paint a picture of how I will significantly increase my net worth too if I invest in what they are selling. And how about the stories told by places? Come to our country or city or resort and have this type of experience.

Brands tell stories about their history and their heritage and their founders. They also tell stories about their heroic and other admirable deeds. Many brands like to tell stories that demonstrate their values or their legendary service.
  • Every brand story requires the following elements:
  • Moral of the story (central premise)
  • Hero (protagonist)
  • Villain (antagonist)
  • Plot (tension/conflict/resolution)
  • “Ah ha” moment
  • Transformation
Further, you should have answered these questions before you write your brand’s story:
  • What is the brand’s archetype?
  • What is the brand’s personality?
  • What is admirable or endearing about the brand?
  • What is the context or need that makes this story relevant?
  • Where should we tell this story? Using which media?
Storytelling is a strong selling tool. Every brand should have its stories. The stories should be engaging, entertaining, admirable, endearing and even purchase motivating. Does your brand have a story to tell? If your target customers heard it, would they love your brand even more?

(c) 2014 by Brad VanAuken, excerpted from Brand Aid, second edition, to be published in December

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