Brand Fuel Express 2 – Brand Storytelling

This is the second post from the Brand Fuel Express high-speed branding event, following on from the first one on The Power of Packaging.

This one is on another subject I'm passionate about: brand storytelling. It was nicely delivered by Bianca Cawthorne, who is ex-Diegeo and now works as a consultant.

Bianca made the case for brands to move beyond conventional product-based communication "(Omo/Persil wash whiter") and emotional communication ("We make you feel like a good mum") to story-telling ("Freedom for kids to get dirty"). The only watch-out I add, as you'd expect, is the need to build this on a strong product. Its the combination of sausage/product and sizzle/story that are the key to sustained success. Some examples of brand stories:
– Johnny Walker: "Keep Walking"
– Dove: "Campaign for Real Beauty"
– Persil/Omo: "Freedom to get dirty"

Bianca drew on the work of Hollywood Screenplay consultant Robert McKee and his seminal tome,"Story". I am also a big fan of his, and the Story book was featured in my series of posts last summer on "10 Books that changed my life". Here are some of my key take-outs from her session:

1. Creating the story
Creating a brand story is about making a connection between a brand truth, often anchored in the brand 's heritage, your values/beliefs and an insight about your consumer. In the case of Dove's story about "Campaigning for Real Beauty", the brand had for 50 years being championing simple, honest products in the form of the Dove bar. The brand also had a view that beauty was about "real types, not stereotypes". And there was an insight about (some) women becoming fed up with the artificial and un-attainable beauty portrayed by L'Oreal and the like.

I also liked the six main types of story that Bianca presented, as this can be good stimulation for brand story writing: 1) Overcome the monster (Jaws); 2) The Quest (Field of Dreams); 3) Cinderella; 4) Voyage and Return (Devil Wears Prada); 5) Tragedy (Gladiator); 6) Comedy (Meet the Parents)

2. Telling the story

Telling your story requires creativity and craftsmanship. I loved the story Bianca told about one of my fave ads of all time: The Swimmer by Guinness, that I posted on here.
The ad features an old guy trying to swim a circuit faster than it takes a pint of Guinness to pour. Bianca told how the ad tested only averagely in Link Testing. But, rather than give up, the team hired a US screenwriter to craft the ad. He did this by using a voice-over to literally tell the story, and the ad then tested much better.

3. Refreshing the Story
A story cannot be static of course. And so you need to work on refreshing it, to keep it relevant. I posted on the way that TV series like Seinfeld manage to do this so well. And of course how we'll all be queuing up to watch the 22nd James Bond movie when it comes out in October!

Last of the 3 posts on Brand Fuel 24 coming up next: Core Brand Renovation.