The Blake Project, the brand consultancy behind Branding Strategy Insider, delivers interactive brand education workshops and keynote speeches designed to align marketers on essential concepts in brand management and empower them to release the full potential of the brands they manage.
Category: Brand Storytelling
Joseph Campbell is known to many as George Lucas’ inspiration for the story structure of the original Star Wars films. Dig a little deeper and you find that Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth aka the Hero’s Journey, outlined in his seminal The Hero With A Thousand Faces serves as the basic story structure found in narratives worldwide, since the beginning of time. This Hero’s Journey is what makes the most famous stories universal and also allows us to identify with the protagonist out on their journey, eventually overcoming a challenge to reach a new enlightened state of being. This is classic story structure and the most strategic brand storytellers are very aware of this when creating content meant to authentically engage a following.
I believe the most powerful brand stories are created when a hero is discovered among a brand’s followers and their story is shared in a compelling and cinematic manner and ultimately serves as an example of how that brand is playing the supporting role of the “wise sage” (think Obi Wan Kenobi) that helps our hero achieve their desired state. An example of this approach in action is from Ebay and is one of the finest I’ve come across (and at half a million views, it’s driving some great results). Not only does it tell a story that highlights Ebay’s brand value, but it does so in a way that we can all connect with. The entire “Ebay Thanks You” series of story-driven content is beautifully conceived and executed and will serve as great benchmark for visual brand storytellers everywhere.
Ebay: The One That Got Away
Sponsored by: The Brand Storytelling Workshop
Join us at The Un-Conference: 360° of Brand Strategy for a Changing World
Featuring John Sculley May 16-17, 2013 in San Diego, California
A unique, competitive-learning workshop limited to 100 participants
As in Your marketplace — some will win, some will lose, All will learn
A shared value is a belief that both the brand and consumer have about a brand’s higher purpose, philosophy, culture and contribution. At the heart of enduring brand storytelling, shared values will be the only reason people will notice, listen and act.
Brands can’t market their way to making people care about the value they claim to provide. Besides consumers don’t care about your marketing anyway–their attention spans and tolerance grows ever shorter.
Clutter grows exponentially.
When what matters (beyond transactions and money-making) is shared between brand and customer, there is no need for selling, convincing, persuading and discounting prices…it’s simply about the resonance of the like-minded. The story of your brand must be born out of the shared values between the brand and those who care about it.
To those marketers who still believe consumers really want a “relationship” with their brands, the general consumer in the category doesn’t want a relationship with a brand – they want more discounts!
Brand storytelling reinforces shared values not functional benefits.
Brands can’t share values with everybody–only with some people. As Wayne (actor Mike Meyers) profoundly states in the comedy Wayne’s World “Led Zeppelin didn’t write songs everybody liked, they left that to the Bee-Gees”. So it is with brand storytelling.
In the outdoor / technical apparel category, Patagonia represents far more value than the functional benefits designed into its technical outerwear products. Functional benefits are the ante in the category. If you wear stuff that doesn’t meet the ante in the category, you’ll probably freeze to death on your next mountain adventure.
For Patagonia customers who share the brand’s passion for sustainability and environmental stewardship, there simply are no other substitutes. Patagonia’s rich history, founders story, and its authentic and trusted culture, echoes within the heart of the customer through the brand’s story of shared values.
Resonance creates preference.Read More
Brand storytelling isn’t a new concept, but with the explosive growth of social media and content marketing, the opportunities to tell stories as part of direct and indirect brand marketing initiatives have become a strategic priority.
Marketers have been telling brand stories for years through advertising, in-person brand experiences, and so on, but the art of writing those brand stories as effective pieces of online content is a challenge that few are trained to do. That’s because the best brand storytellers understand the critical elements of fiction writing, which are skills that few marketers have been formally trained to do.
Today’s strongest marketing team will have room for new roles like the data architect and the brand creative content director. While the former position focuses on all that big data has to offer, the latter focuses on increasing consumer emotional involvement in the brand through social media and content marketing stories as well as on weaving the brand storyline into offline brand experiences and marketing initiatives.
Following are five pillars that brand storytellers understand and use to intrigue, engage, and connect emotionally with consumers. These pillars include a mix of branding fundamentals and fiction writing basics. Together, they can help you craft compelling brand stories for your own content marketing and integrated marketing efforts.
1. Speak truthfully.
Honesty and transparency are important in brand storytelling. Yes, you’re crafting “stories,” but they need to be rooted in the reality of your brand, products, and industry. In other words, even brand stories must adhere to the three primary steps of brand-building: consistency, persistence, and restraint. If your brand stories are inconsistent, they’ll confuse consumers who will turn away from the brand in search of another that meets their expectations for it in every interaction. Be creative but don’t stray too far from your brand promise. Confusion is the number one brand killer.
2. Infuse personalities into stories.
Brand stories are not marketing materials. They are not ads, and they are not sales pitches. Brand stories should be told with the brand persona and the writer’s personality at center stage. Boring stories won’t attract and retain readers, but stories brimming with personality can.Read More
We are all living in the digital age. Put another way we are now living in the age of community. It’s a brave new world confounding marketing people in every business category. Within this digital age of community, consumers now opt in or opt out. For marketers, no longer is the conversation about persuasion to buy, rather it’s about to join.
So in the digital age is brand storytelling still relevant? The simple answer – now more than ever!
Every story features an inspired truth carrying the audience along in a captivating journey involving every element of the human condition. There are heroes, villains, struggle, transformation and redemption in every story – and so it must be with the story of your brand.
In our digital age powered by the social web, no longer can marketers demand customer’s attention; they must earn and deserve it by connecting profoundly to the heart of their unspoken desires. No other communication practice does this more effectively than storytelling. When you tell stories that connect to people’s hidden desires, they will follow you, like you, download you, tweet you, share you with friends, and embrace anything you represent– be it the product you sell, the service you provide, or the team you lead.
First and foremost storytelling has always been about tales of unspoken desire. The root of your brand’s story is the core desire and shared values of your target audience. Your brand story is based in whatever desire your audience is striving to attain.
The social web is the cave painting of our time
Just like the cave paintings of prehistoric man to the carving of symbols on rock tablets and ancient temple walls, the social web is the universal medium of the digital age. Indeed the digital age offers many new forms, structures and venues to deliver the “moral” of your brand story to customers. But there’s a catch.
The moral of your brand’s story will have to pass through an unforgiving wall of static white noise. The digital age carries far more noise than signal. Assuming your audience will even hear your brand story, why will they listen, and more importantly in the parlance of our time – convert?
The answer lies in the ability of your brand story to inspire your audience to realize the unspoken desires they hold near and dear to their hearts. Facts and features will never be enough to move people to connect with your value proposition. This has been true since the dawn of language. All enduring stories teach us, elevate us, and guide us to improve our condition.Read More
At the center of every brand story is a hero. The hero could be an idea, a person, or a thing– to be effective at brand storytelling, it’s critical to know what attributes define the inner character of the hero. The hero, of course, is the brand itself. Like any good story that teaches and informs us about a higher ideal, brand storytelling is about the higher purpose of why the hero exists and why we should care.
The notion of brand storytelling is one that is growing in popularity among marketers these days. Yet so much “storytelling” continues to be nothing more than outbound messaging and selling. That’s no surprise because it’s the job of every marketer to message and sell. If you’re not selling something, then you’re not marketing right?
For this reason it’s in the marketer’s self interest to “message” out directly, rather than engage people in the ideas and lessons they care about.
Improving our condition
Every enduring story is based on a transcendent idea bigger than the story itself. The elements of any story – characters, plot, and environment – can clarify, focus, and influence the idea’s expression, but it’s always the big idea that drives the brand story.
The hero of the story is the character who possesses the big idea. And the heart of that idea “teaches us to improve our condition”. And it’s our “condition” we care most about! Creating value is about improving the condition of people’s lives. From the dawn of language, stories have taught humans how to improve the conditions of life.
To break through the clutter of messaging bombarding the mind, every brand must represent a single idea that improves the condition of the customer. Our hero the brand has committed to embarking on that journey. Through the hero’s example we are more in touch with what makes us all the better for it.
Brand storytelling defines the hero character, not the message.
Brand storytelling begins with a clear understanding of who the hero character is, what attributes define the hero in differentiated and relevant ways to specific audiences. It’s not about advertising the features and benefits of products or services.Read More