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Brand Storytelling

7 Ways To Use Story To Inspire Brand Change

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7 Ways To Use Story To Inspire Brand Change

At some stage, many marketers will be called upon to explain why a brand change is needed. Here’s how to frame the business case as a story, using a combination of learnings from this article on the uptake of slow ideas and Freytag’s Pyramid.

1. Begin With A Burning Platform. No-one changes anything until it’s urgent or profitable. People will stay with what they know until the reasons not to do so outweigh the convenience and familiarity of doing nothing. So make the case – as coolly, calmly and rationally as possible. Use stats. Provide insights. Show patterns. Let people see the problem for themselves rather than having to imagine what it might be. Motivate them to move on.

2. Show That You’ve Already Tried To Fix The Immediate Issue. It’s vital that those being asked to upgrade this issue understand why it is being brought onto their radar now. Explain what you’ve done so far to deal with what’s arisen, what’s worked and why, what hasn’t worked and why, where that’s led, and therefore why you need this group to re-prioritize this matter and resource it in new ways. In other words, show that a business-as-usual response has already been tried and that what’s needed now exceeds that (which is why you’ve brought this matter to the group’s attention). The critical balance to be struck here is showing that you have spent enough time dealing with the matter to recognize that it cannot be solved conventionally without spending so much time trying to solve it that it is “urgent”. Help them own the need to solve the problem.

3. Identify The Bigger Opportunity. Look beyond the immediate. What could addressing this issue mean? Turn the specific problem into a broader strategic cue. How could it change the brand’s overall competitiveness? In other words, what has the issue made you aware of that wasn’t obvious, and how could that influence where the company goes next? Invite decision makers to see the broader possibilities, and motivate them to take the cue to act.

4. Extend The Diving Board. Tie back what needs doing to issues or strategies that have already been discussed or raised within the business. In other words, link what’s new with what decision makers already acknowledge they were looking at doing. That way, you’re working with people’s inclinations, not against them, and the decision becomes an extension of something they are associated with. Remember, people are much more inclined to act on something that they feel they recognize rather than something that has now taken them all by surprise. Make them feel that this was something they had already foreseen. Everyone likes to feel smart.

5. Give Tomorrow A Name. Create a new and better normality that people can start to live with, and give that new reality a name. Make it something people can talk about – something cool, something interesting, something that they can own and foster. Frame the solution in a form that people can have conversations around and that provide a common point of reference. Don’t just ask them to make a decision, motivate them to become an advocate.

6. Acknowledge The Obstacles. Having excited them about the opportunity, make it clear what stands between the situation as is today and success. Those obstacles can of course take forms ranging from philosophical to operational. By highlighting the key objections – particularly the difficult ones – you can show the skeptics you had anticipated their objections. And of course, listing the likely barriers may bring to light obstacles that you hadn’t foreseen.

7. Make Your Solution, ‘Our’ Solution. Show where you have got to in terms of arriving at an answer and invite those taking part to contribute their thoughts on how to make the answer happen. Once people feel that they are part of what is being proposed, they are much more likely to advocate for it. That’s particularly important as you explore timings, costs and next steps. You want those making the decision to find other ways they or their team can contribute to making the change happen.

It’s tempting to believe that a strong business case will sell itself – but within the crowded agendas that so much change is proposed these days, and particularly in environments where different change agendas compete for priority, presenting what needs doing in a narrative format that decision makers follow is much more likely to hold their attention and gain their support than screeds of data or research. All that can come later. Start with a story.

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