Every brand wants to win hearts and minds, right?
That’s why you need a brand story.
Stories are contagious. They seep into our hearts. We live in stories and we want to share them. Stories make us feel good, because they make us feel part of something.
People want to be swept up in a story. All of us do. That’s why people become political activists, that’s why they join a religion, that’s why they become a rock band groupie, that’s why they hook up with a partner and have kids.
We want to be part of something bigger than ourselves. Stories give us that opportunity.
The bigger the story, the bigger the opportunity.
The bigger the story you tell, the more opportunity you’ll have to win hearts and minds.
Let’s go back a few decades.
The entertainment industry (Hollywood et al.) wanted to figure out how to tell bigger stories.
They hit a problem.
In simple terms, a good story is a good story. They’ve cracked that nut, and there’s not much they can do to polish the stories they’re telling.
Cinema theater screens can’t get much bigger either, so there’s little scope for expansion there.
How, then, do did Hollywood tell bigger stories?
They decided to take familiar characters, and tell their story in a new way.
Sequels are the most basic example. You take a story, and you make it bigger.
Stories can explode way bigger than sequels.
How? You take a story elsewhere, outside the movie theater.
You take the story to TV. Computer screens. Novels. Comics. Action figures.
Think Pokemon. Think Batman. Think Ninja Turtles. Think Disney Channel. Think Star Wars.
(Incidentally, George Lucas waived his Star Wars director’s fee in exchange for merchandising rights, a decision that made him a multi-billionaire)
Telling a story across different platforms makes the lead characters of those stories more compelling. And, to cut to the chase, it makes the entertainment industry more money.
Branding & Transmedia Storytelling
What has this got to do your brand?
Your brand is a story. In fact, unless you’ve yet to go to market or launch a single ad, you’re a transmedia storyteller.
That’s because you’re telling your brand’s story through your:
- customer service
- advertising (TV, radio, print)
- social media updates
You’re also having your story told for you, in the media (newspapers, TV, etc.), on social media, and in the stories your customers share about your brand.
Do you begin to see the opportunity here?
The question is: Are you telling the same story through all these outlets?
If your stories contradict, your customers will notice. They’ll sense there’s something “off” about your brand (though they won’t be able to put their finger on it), and they’ll steer clear.
(Side note: Apple’s success lies in its ability to tell a consistent story across all its products and marketing.)
What’s more, if you’re failing to use all these outlets as storytelling opportunities, you’re missing a chance to make your story bigger.
Have you ever written your story down and shared it with your employees and customers, to make sure everyone’s acting from the same script? If not, today would be the perfect time to start.
A Final Word of Encouragement
If your story seems small today, keep going.
Over time, you’re building up a reservoir of stories, about who you are, where you’ve come from, why you exist, and where you’re going.
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