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Brand Storytelling

Brand Storytelling

Inverting The Brand Story For Real Life Experiences


Inverting The Brand Story Strategy

The case for brands to engage in storytelling is well made and well documented. Stories are so much more effective than facts, they engage us and in so doing, they motivate brands and buyers alike to get involved and to act.

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Brand Storytelling

Brand Storytelling: From Myth To Meaning


Aveda Brand Story

So, what makes a story a myth? Of course, ultimately it’s your audience – or all of us. If we don’t ‘hold the belief’, embrace the narrative as meaningful and enlightening and your audience doesn’t view it as aspirational, some- thing relating to their dreams, you’ll never reach mythical power, no matter how beautifully you craft and spin your story. But there are certain things you can do to increase your chances, because according to Joseph Campbell a myth becomes a myth when it serves at least some of the following four functions:

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Brand Storytelling Branding: Just Ask...

How Leading Brands Should Respond To Attacks


How A Leading Brand Should Respond To A Challenger

Branding Strategy Insider helps marketing oriented leaders and professionals like you build strong brands. BSI readers know, we regularly answer questions from marketers everywhere. Today we hear from John, a VP of Marketing in Dallas, Texas who writes…

“We are a global B2B brand and the the market leader in our sector. We have a much smaller brand attacking both us and our offer and using very clever brand messaging to do so. Our response so far has been restrained and very much in keeping with your brand storytelling strategy of redirect, refute, re-position and remind. That hasn’t stopped them. In terms of best practice, when do you feel is the right time for a leader to send a more direct message that draws clear contrasts with the challenger brand offering? I know the inherent risks for giving free mindshare impressions, and generating big guy beating up on little guy perceptions, but keen to hear your thoughts.”

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Brand Storytelling

Leveraging Brand Heritage For Stories And Strength


Brand Heritage Fuels Stories and Strength

Everyone loves a good story, and the critical strength of heritage brands is that they have such stories in abundance. Little wonder then that as American consumer confidence starts to look up, the brands that remind consumers of what they have, where they are and where they’ve come from are doing well. It’s a timely reminder of just how much the story of a brand links to the narrative that buyers run in their own minds of the lives they lead and the lives they would lead if they could.

While we often think of heritage brands as one genre, they exist in a range of sub-categories with different emphases and visual treatments. Natural heritage branding for example is all about ruggedness, generational history and of course the great outdoors. Contemporary heritage brands take some of their cues from what has been but place the marques firmly in today, interweaving old references with bold contemporary visual themes to deliver brands that are both respectful and immediate. Craft heritage brands tell a deep artisan story – slower, older, more patient, perfectionist.

Heritage brands, it strikes me, are brands centered on legend and mythology. They deliver because they carefully work their history to link buyers to an often romantic view of the world as it was or as we would have liked it to have been. There’s an authenticity and a simplicity of spirit that consumers find intriguing and beguiling, in a world where today everything seems so rushed and artificial.

The biggest learning for storytellers from these brands is that they pace their stories, and more specifically, the recounting of their histories to the ‘speed’ of the brand’s appeal. Heritage is a slow moving story. It requires constancy first to give the brand authenticity, and adaptation second to stay current with the changing aesthetic and priorities of buyers. A Timberland boot is not as much about this year’s colors as it is about continuing the Timberland legacy. The appeal of the brand lies in the careful selection of what is spoken of, and what is not, of what doesn’t change and what does.

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Brand Storytelling

7 Ways To Craft A Brand Counter Story


Brand Storytelling Sega Nintendo

Stories add to the humanity of brands. They help consumers think through and act upon a narrative that is fundamentally rooted in human truths. Stories generate empathy. We see ourselves in the tale. Or we see a side of ourselves. Or we see the ‘me’ that we would like to be. Without that narrative, everything is dominated by features, data and discounts.

Consumers compare offers and in so doing they inevitably compare stories. They look for how brands fit the story of their life that they are telling themselves. Sadly, the stories that brands tell often focus on the world as they see it. They are a narrative shaped around their history and their vision for the days ahead, and they take their reference from the thinking and planning that have taken place internally.

Inevitably in most sectors, the stories of market leaders dominate. These brands set the rules and the expectations and as such they can have an undue influence on the stories that their competitors tell. They decide the market norms for the industry. That’s frustrating if you have a different brand approach and if you don’t want to be labelled as just another participant with the same attitudes and limitations as your rivals.

If your brand is struggling to get its story told in the face of a highly articulate and motivated competitor with strong market presence and plenty of resources, simply trying to out-shout them is a waste of time. One option to seriously consider is generating a counter-story; a narrative that deliberately sets out an alternative perspective in the minds of the people you want to reach. Challenger brands are ideally placed to use this strategy: in so doing, they can put distance between themselves and an incumbent and introduce new expectations into the market that they are best placed to fulfill.

Avis did this with Hertz. By introducing the idea that they try harder, they implied that their competitor was complacent and slower to act. More recently, Uber did the same to taxis – tell the story of an alternative way get from A to B that struck at the heart of a long-presumed narrative (although their story has since hit reputational and regulatory hurdles that they have yet to overcome). Sir Richard Branson is the master of this strategy. He doesn’t introduce another offering into a market without contextualizing it as a very different approach to the one that everyone has got used to. He uses counter-story to weave a tale of what could and should be.

Talking about this with Shawn Callahan, he made two excellent points. Firstly, he said, you can’t beat a story with facts, you can only beat it with a better story. So if a competitor has a better story, listing the facts of your product only makes their story stronger. And if you do decide to tell a counter-story, you can’t have one that is only a tiny bit better. You should aim to tell a story that is 10 times better and more compelling. This often means having to do something differently. Secondly, timing is everything in his view. Not only do you need a story to beat a story but the first counter-story has a distinct advantage in terms of effectiveness over any others that may be created.

While many challenger brands focus their battle on a nemesis, a counter-story doesn’t need to take its cue from, or act in response to, another player. In fact, focusing on a rival brand can block challengers from seeing what consumers are looking for because they are too busy trying to score points. That’s what happened in the war between Sega and Nintendo. They were so engaged in their own tit-for-tat that they overlooked the arrival and ascendance of Sony as a gaming force. Instead, the counter-story itself can focus on a manifesto-like articulation of what should be possible and the articulation of that future through a story told in social media, video, interviews, data, graphics, case studies and narrative to add depth, context, ownership and insight.

7 Ways To Craft A Counter Story

  1. Challenge what everyone takes for granted. Explain why the status quo came to be this way and, possibly, who was influential in making that happen.
  2. Talk about why it must stop or change. Focus on what everyone stands to gain if that happens.
  3. Develop a narrative that revolves around your brand and that sets out an alternative to what has been the norm up until now. This will form the backbone of your counter-story  strategy. Answer these six questions.
  4. Use personal experiences to bring the counter-story to life and to prove it will work.
  5. Offer simple ways to tell and spread the story – e.g. hashtags – and encourage people to do so.
  6. Incentivize people to try the alternative you are promoting – through free trials, money back guarantees, freemium models.
  7. Celebrate adoption as it happens. Show that there is inclination and momentum for change.

The Blake Project Can Help: The Brand Storytelling Workshop Series

Branding Strategy Insider is a service of The Blake Project: A strategic brand consultancy specializing in Brand Research, Brand Strategy, Brand Licensing and Brand Education

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