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
“We tell ourselves stories in order to live.” (Joan Didion)
Our actual life experience is far too much for our brains to take in, and so, with great efficiency (and often bias), our memory (which is where we find life story), compiles a series of snapshots we string together by a narrative line. Ralph Waldo Emerson was absolutely correct when he said, “There is no history, only biography.”
Marketers that tell the best stories realize that the only story we ever listen to is the story we tell ourselves. Reality is in the mind of the beholder.
In his book, The Business of Belief, Tom Asacker writes, “Our desires and evolving personal narratives focus our attention. We choose people, things, information and experiences that reinforce our world-view and bolster our self-esteem, and we look for, and find, evidence to help us rationalize those decisions.”
Brand storytelling works when the story being told by the brand is more akin to staging a scene, which invites us in, and serves as a platform upon which we can continue to build our evolving personal narrative. We need story to tell us something about the scene. We need to understand something about the brand’s purpose to know if it is compatible with our choices.
Coca-Cola’s ‘Share a Coke’ campaign (Wunderman/Ogilvy Australia) is an example of great storytelling because it sets the stage for experience to happen. Seeing our own names, or names of those we care about, reflected on the product triggers memories. And a call to action on the product to share might activate a change in behavior, like saving bottles with friends’ names as a novelty. In this story, Coca-Cola is an ornament, compatible with an infinite number of stories. It knows enough about authentic storytelling to not even try to tell us what the story should be. Coke embraces an experience mindset in realizing that the sensation of sharing is more important than the stuff being shared.Read More
Everyone has a story now. Or at least most brands claim to have one. But having a story in many ways is like having a product. Really it means nothing if it is not competitive as a narrative and personally relevant to each recipient. So your story must be distinctive from the other stories that are in play in a market and it must continue to be so. That’s challenging in fast moving sectors where there is always something new to look at, another brand tale to try.
That’s why you can’t set and forget a story. Anymore than you can set and forget your business strategy. As your business adapts and responds to changes in the market and the initiatives of your rivals, your story must change too if it is to remain competitive. What that means in effect is that your story is subject to eight ongoing forces, all of which influence what you tell in different ways:
1. Your story must be long (in terms of scope) – you need a story that is capable of being told over an extended period of time, meaning it must have enough aspects (threads) for you to push your storytelling forward, developing, introducing and twisting as the story goes to keep people involved and wanting to know more.
2. Your story must be deep – you need a story that allows you to delve into the detail of different aspects to intrigue, to prove expertise, to demonstrate detail, to highlight a facet, to deliver a backstory
3. Your story must be competitive – there is no point in telling a story that is similar to that of your biggest rival, or in telling the same story as the rest of the industry. You need an angle – a perspective that is refreshing and different, that sets what you have to say apart from what others are talking about. It must be more relevant to the people to whom it is addressed than the story your competitors want to share with them.
4. Your story must be social – it must be more shareable across a full range of social media. So it must invite contribution and input. It must share ownership with the community that forms around it. And it must take its cues, through data analysis and analytics as you collect information on customer shopping habits, customer interests and customer concerns in terms of areas of accent, aspects to explore further, ideas that need to be brought forward. As you gather insights, you need to find ways to inject those ideas into the conversation in order to immerse people further in the storyline.Read More
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 EducationRead More
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.
- The CMO’s role is to understand the competition, where the brand sits in relation to those competitors and what their weaknesses are.
- Build a strategy on a simple idea that clearly positions the brand and that the brand has earned the right to own.
- Create campaigns that report to the strategy, not just ideas that win awards and entertain.
- Convince colleagues, particularly the CEO, to invest in a long story
- 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.Read More
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.Read More