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Articles filed in: Storytelling

They’re Telling Your Story

“We have to realise that the days of controlling the message are absolutely over.”
Wendy Clark Senior VP of Integrated Marketing Coca Cola.

You work hard to create an impression of your brand or business. To make your idea spread. You tell the story with your packaging, website design, logo, products, copy and service. You share it in print, video, at events and on online networks. Those impressions you work to create are only a tiny part of what makes up the complete picture of your brand.

Of 146 million views generated for Coca Cola on You Tube, 26 milllion were impressions generated by Coke. 120 Million were generated by the expressions created by consumers!

“Who’s controlling the dialogue? It’s not me.” Wendy Clark VP Marketing Coca Cola

Now your business has a fantastic opportunity to engage with customers and fans, to enter into a dialogue, to listen, to reach out to them and understand how and why they use, love or hate your product.

You might have the trade mark, you might even wear the crown, but you don’t own the story.

What you do have though is an opportunity like never before to give your customers a great story to tell.

Which brands (big and small) are doing this best? How are you listening to and engaging with your audience?

Image by Doug Focht

6 Questions For Crafting Your Relevance

When was the last time something caught your attention? In our increasingly noisy world things that captivate us for more than a few seconds are few and far between.

We have become experts at shutting things out, at not paying attention to anything that doesn’t hold relevance for us. In any market we need to think about how we can become relevant. Remember relevance in the eyes of our customer might not be the same as relevance in ours.

Six Questions For Crafting Your Brand Relevance

1. Who do we want to care about what we sell or do?
2. Why would those people care about what we do or what we are selling?
3. Why would they cross the street to buy from us?
4. What emotional want are we fulfilling?
5. How can we make this more about them and less about us?
6. What will they be able to say to their friends to recommend us?

We need to give people one reason to care about us, not just a hundred different reasons to buy from us.

Image by Barbara Mazzarella.

So…. What Do You Do?

Have you ever had difficulty explaining the really cool project you’re working on to people? You’re not the only one! Even really smart people get stuck at trying to tell us what they do.

The founders of Instagram, (the iPhone app that is taking communication in the social space by storm), Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger made an admission during an interview last week. They realised the project they were working on before Instagram, (Burbn a location based app) wasn’t going to fly because they were having difficulty explaining it to people. So they changed tack and built something that they could explain in a single sentence. Instagram is, “a fast, beautiful and fun way to share your life with friends through a series of pictures.”

If your audience doesn’t ‘get it’ then how are you ever going to resonate? Resonance is what makes ideas fly, and spread. It’s what elects leaders, creates lovemarks and propels movements.

We need to get better at helping people to understand what we do and why we do it, so they can figure out where our ideas, products and services might fit into their lives. We have only thirty seconds to convince them, that’s one sentence, maybe two.

And perhaps most important of all we need to give people a reason and the language to share us with their friends.

Image by Paul G.

There’s Only One Orla Kiely

There’s only one Orla Kiely but a hundred ways to experience her brand. A brand that appeals across generations from teens to youthful grandmothers.

That doesn’t mean that Kiely’s multicolored designs inspired by the 1960s and 1970s appeal to everyone, quite the opposite. You will either love them or hate them. Orla says that “they are for confident women who know what they like and who are not necessarily victims of fashion.”

I’m guessing that when she moved into designing handbags rather than hats (after her father noted during her first London Fashion Week that everyone was carrying a handbag, but no one was wearing a hat!), that Orla didn’t design things for everyone. She already had a clear picture in her mind of the women she was making things for.

And because they weren’t for everyone her bags were something to covet and once you had one, to share. I was introduced to a friend’s purse once with the words; “this is my Orla Kiely”.

Whatever your idea is, whatever you hope to sell or spread, you need to consider how and why your customer will share it with her friend. There may not be a scarcity of handbags or designers out there but there is a shortage of stories we care enough about to share.

Create those kind of stories and who knows maybe one day your design will be featured on a bus, car, or maybe even a postage stamp.

Image by Tilde Shop.

Why Magical Trumps Logical

Look around you. Think about the last thing that you bought. It might have been a $4 cup of coffee, the latest iPhone or an ecourse online. Now think about why you bought it. Was it something you needed? Or more likely something that you wanted.

If customers bought everything based purely on logic then Jimmy Choo would be out of business and everyone would be buying shoes from Target.

If every product sold purely because of its features and benefits alone then Alex wouldn’t be willing to wait (first in line) overnight outside the Apple store in Sydney so he could be one of the first to own an iPad 2 tomorrow morning. When I asked him why he would do that; (the magic of Twitter), he told me it was 90% passion, people, excitement and 10% product. He’s there for the story he can tell himself, for the “excitement of meeting people from all over with a common passion for something, a goal.”

“90% of lining up is the company you meet and 10% is the product. You will always have the product to use, but the mates you meet last longer and sometimes forever. Perhaps it is being in line for hours on end with nothing to do but chat with your fellow comrades; or just the excitement that you get from dreaming about having the latest gadget. It’s truly an experience and it’s simply exhilarating. Not easily replicable, but often compared to queuing for U2’s concert tickets or that End-of-Season sale at Manolo Blahnik. In one word, it’s passion.”
Alex Lee (via email from the front of the line 24/03)

Listen to how Apple introduces us to the iPad using adjectives like, magical, awesome, magnificent, gorgeous and unbelievable.

Your customers want you to tell them these kind of stories too. They want to get excited about what you do. They want to trust you to keep your promises. They want to connect and belong, to share in the story.

Most of all they want your brand and your products to be unique, incredible and magical so that they can feel that way too.

Image by mbeo.

The million dollar story

The crowd funding platform Kickstarter is a fantastic place to see how ideas spread in action.

The biggest success on the platform to date has been the Tik Tok and Luna Tik watch project. Scott Wilson initially pitched for $15,000 in funding to enable his company to produce the multi-touch watch kit. The final amount pledged was almost $950,000! The project was over 6,000% funded by a total of 13,500 backers. The story was framed in such a way that we were already imagining how we would feel when we wore the watch and showed it to our friends.

What is it that makes this story so compelling? Is there are formula?

Did you notice how Scott painted an authentic and consistent picture throughout the video? He’s credible (he was a designer at Nike) and his company has a track record. We can trust him to deliver. Although we do hear some facts about the materials used in the manufacture of the watch kit most of the story speaks about the design not the facts. It appeals to our senses not to our logic. A lot like Apple!

Don’t forget that what MNML is selling here. It’s just the thing that will transform something we already love into something even cooler, thus subtly taking the story to another level because it agrees with the worldview we share about Apple. Great product, fantastic story.

Do you know of any other brands who do this exceptionally well? How could you tell a story like this about your brand?

Image by Brendan Lim.