I just returned from “The Un-Conference: 360 degrees of Brand Strategy for a Changing World” at which I spoke about brand differentiation and brand equity measurement among other topics. Clay Hausmann, a brand storytelling strategist, presented one of the most clear and practical approaches to brand storytelling that I have seen. Brand storytelling is the bridge between brand strategy/positioning and brand marketing communication.
In his approach to brand storytelling, he works with clients to help them identify four things:
- The Inciting incident } motivation
- The controlling idea } clarity
- The genre } context
- The characteristics } differentiation
The inciting incident is the pivotal event or decision that sets the story and its drama in motion. The controlling idea is the underlying idea that the story expresses. The genre is the type of story (love story, comedy, action thriller, etc.) and the characteristics are what makes the brand and its story different from other brands and their stories.
Today, I want to focus on the controlling idea. The controlling idea for Colombo is a seemingly bumbling detective who is smarter than the criminal and therefore solves the case and arrests the criminal. Every episode of Colombo expresses this controlling idea.
Clay indicated that the controlling idea for a business might be how one’s life changes in a positive and meaningful way after using that business’ product(s). This is also the approach that some ads take.
I think this expression of a business’ controlling idea is something every brand manager should think about whether he or she crafts his or her brand’s story or not. How does your brand change people’s lives in positive and meaningful ways? If you cannot answer this question off the top of your mind, you have some work to do.
I highly recommend Clay and his work. If you want an introduction to him, I am happy to do so.
I wish you great success in determining how your brand changes people’s lives in positive and meaningful ways and I wish you great success in crafting and telling your brand’s story.