Many traditional branding methods, rely on values & attributes to define brands, but these tend to be similar in competitive markets. “Innovation” and “Simplicity” come to mind as current popular values. “Empowerment” and “Enabling” were very strong about 5-6 years ago in the bubble days.
Values & attributes also tend to be limiting when things get intricate, they start to merge or contradict, broaden their meaning to the point they become useless at creating focus, or worse turn to generic clichés.
Often they will just float out there in their pure bright solitude, increasingly disconnected from your organisation, your brand, what you meant for them to do. From meaning.
Stories are closer to the way people interpret, articulate and communicate (complex) meaning in most contexts.
That’s another reason one-word-equity (whether you refer to the “new” concept or the “old” one) just can’t work – The association networks people have about brands are tangled, fluid, complex things. Trying to introduce focus using this “laser” approach is hopeless – the mind will (and should) resist. Telling a story influences perception in a much subtler way.
Stories are so central to culture and the way our minds make sense of the world, that the same message communicated using a story, enjoys some of the following advantages:
- Stories are more memorable
- Stories are more interesting
- Stories are more evocative
- Stories are perceived as more unique
- Stories are more believable / authentic
- Stories encourage identification and empathy
- Stories contain conflicts in a credible manner
- Stories are more viral
You can tell various stories about any brand, some may accompany it for it’s entire life. For marketing purposes it’s better to focus on one story as credibility, relevancy and differentiation allows, even if through different manifestations.
Additionally, there seems to be an advantage to identifying/creating an “over-arching” theme, which ties everything together, often using a familiar structure from similar stories. One of the names for this structure is “Plot”.
The word plot is quite close to the word plan.
Planners should spend more time recognizing plots and plotting. 🙂
Other words that share similar meaning? How about design or architecture? (See, I’m not just paranoid, it does all tie together.)
Tracing some marketing plots is what I’d like to do next. Doing that, I’ll be telling stories about stories, in an attempt to make sense of how they work.
(stories about stories are sometimes called meta-narratives or (cultural) myths, I will aim to use the term plot consistently)
(Final note: I’ve been obsessed with this subject for a very long time, so if I’m jumping ahead or if something is unclear – let me know, and I’ll do my best to bring it back on track)