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Category: Brand Storytelling

Brand Storytelling

How To Avoid Short-Selling Your Brand Story


Nissan Brand Storytelling Strategy

I’m dismayed by how frequently the conversation around content seems to devolve to quantity and tactics. That’s hardly surprising in some ways because of course the two are quickly linked. When everyone’s using the same tactics, quantity starts to look like the only differentiator.

Too many brands are in love with frequency. But you don’t build a deep and storied brand purely by posting and retweeting with gusto. Roel De Vries, Corporate VP, Global Head of Marketing, Communications and Brand Strategy, at Nissan Motor Co. summed it up really well in an interview with Jennifer Rooney when he said that the biggest challenge facing marketers in his opinion was getting all the opportunities available to brands to drive up to something bigger. The risk, he says, is that brand managers go after shiny objects and measure them by things that are not important to customers.

Nissan’s countering that temptation, he continues, by setting its storylines, by deciding what it’s not going to talk about as much as what it is, and by adopting a longer term view. “If you go after clever ideas,” he says, “there’s a lot you can do, but it probably won’t lead to anything bigger.”

I agree completely. Story is more than random content. In a world replete with content, what really counts is the content that systematically and insightfully builds your long story.

Sponsored By: 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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Brand Storytelling

Should CMOs Be Doing More With Brand Stories?


CMO Brand Storytelling

Marketers are busy talking up the value of telling the stories of their brands. But why aren’t more organizations structuring their own strategies and issues as stories, and what role are marketers taking in making that happen?

As the lines between disciplines continue to merge and as the demands on Chief Marketing Officers continue to escalate and the timeframes within which they are expected to achieve noticeable change continue to shrink, perhaps we need to step back and evaluate not just what CMOs do, how and when, but what they contribute to the overall strategy that others can’t and why that matters.

In a very enjoyable article last week, Jack Trout offered his views on what it takes for a CMO to succeed today.

  1. The CMO’s role is to understand the competition, where the brand sits in relation to those competitors and what their weaknesses are.
  2. Build a strategy on a simple idea that clearly positions the brand and that the brand has earned the right to own.
  3. Create campaigns that report to the strategy, not just ideas that win awards and entertain.
  4. Convince colleagues, particularly the CEO, to invest in a long story
  5. Use all the platforms the brand can afford to tell that story, and tell a version of the story on every platform.

Trout’s five point guide makes great sense, but I was drawn to one particular comment in the piece: “Good marketing is good storytelling.” It got me thinking about the journeys that are used to describe how great stories happen, and in particular CMI’s Brand Hero’s Journey.

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Brand Storytelling Brand Strategy Workshops

Brand Storytelling Strategy Workshop Series


Brand Storytelling Strategy Workshops

Today, brands play in an intensely competitive attention economy where human attention is the scarcest resource of all. Storytelling has emerged as the valued currency of this vital new marketplace for capturing customer hearts and minds. Neuroscience now backs up the long-held belief that story is the most powerful means of communicating a message. Savvy marketers understand this and are moving their customers through powerful brand stories.

The Brand Storytelling Strategy Workshop series integrates the latest innovations in story strategy and science to help your organization gain the clarity and confidence needed for your brand to build an advantage in the marketplace.

The Blake Project’s Brand Storytelling Workshops are a highly facilitated, consensus building experience. They are designed and delivered using an accelerated learning format that stimulates key stakeholder involvement and interaction. The Emotive Storytelling™ process guides strategy and design of powerful messaging and stories that drive engagement and emotional connection to your brand. Our extensive storytelling experience, storytelling science expertise and time proven insight combine to help your organization gain unique knowledge and take action using the newest advances in narrative communication and media psychology. Each workshop in the brand storytelling series is designed to incrementally build on each other from story line to story voice to story architecture. Individual workshops can also be selected as stand alone sessions that deliver value in their respective mission areas.

The Brand Storytelling Strategy Workshop Series is ideal for strategic brand initiatives that focus on market challenges, market opportunities and organizational change.

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Brand Storytelling

Brand Audiences: The People Who Don’t Buy


Brand Storytelling

Marketers tend to think of their customers only as those people who purchase their brands – and to distinguish them from people who don’t buy any more or who haven’t bought yet. However, in a world where all manner of consumers are connected, it’s important to pay attention to a number of other groups that have influence but may not necessarily be in the aisles.

Let’s start with the unsung heroes. Supporters add critical mass to tacit approval rather than the bottom line. While they may not have their wallets out, they sanction (or at the very least don’t disapprove) of your presence in the market and what your brand represents. Perhaps they visit your site and/or subscribe to your blog. Maybe they read articles about you in the press. They’re out there nodding and agreeing with others who are supportive of your brand. They may come to your defense in the comments section when someone has a go at you…and for the most part, they’re untraceable.

So often I hear marketers talk about a wish to raise awareness but they then look to relate it directly to conversion to sales. It’s tempting to forget that conversion for supporters will not manifest itself that way (at least not yet – and maybe not ever). However, their positive opinion adds to a brand’s overall market credibility and reputation. Supporters bring good-standing that adds authority and respect for your brand. Corporate advertising, sponsorships, philanthropic initiatives and community support are excellent ways to stay in front of these people and to remind them that you remain worthy of their approval.

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Brand Storytelling

Tell All Of Your Brand Stories


Brand Storytelling

Marketers often talk about story as if it is one thing. But brands with multiple stakeholders need to cater for different responses and priorities by streaming a range of stories to a range of audiences at different times. The reason is simple. The things that make a brand attractive in one context are different from what they might be in another context. Inclination changes, sometimes markedly, depending upon what people value.

For example, just because someone will buy from you doesn’t mean they’ll invest with you. And vice versa. Judging these to be very different audiences with very different interests and needs, companies have tended to separate – indeed silo – these stories and how they are told. The investment story has been put in the hands of the investor relations people; the brand story has been managed by the marketing team; culture has been the domain of HR. Each has presented their interpretation of what is important.

But there’s an opportunity here that I think is being missed – brands could leverage their stories more effectively and efficiently to present a more rounded view of who they are and what they offer. They could and should tell all their stories more cohesively. In his 2006 book Balanced Brand, John Foley discusses how companies need to align not just their own corporate values but also those of a significant range of stakeholders. As he rightly points out, bad things can happen to brands and their reputations when stakeholders who have not been adversely affected themselves nevertheless believe their values have been impinged by a brand’s behaviors.

Indeed, if they are to stream all their stories effectively, brands need to not only identify the different story streams (and who they appeal to) but also look for common reference points. Achieving equilibrium requires enough uniformity across the different streams to provide consistency while at the same time making each story stream specific and credible in its own right.

I’ve identified six streams of story:

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