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Articles filed in: Storytelling
The best business stories, the really good ones develop over time.
They’re the stories that the media probably doesn’t notice. The ones that happen drip by drip, created by people who continue to show up and tell a great story with more passion every day.
The best stories are told by people who care enough about what they do not to be distracted by the quick fixes, flashy launches or the sexy overnight success stories. They embody a mission and vision for the brand, embrace a unique set of values and connect to an audience who is ready to listen. A good business story doesn’t often net $8.5 billion in the first year or the year after that either.
If you want to stand the test of time you need to take your time. Focus on what you know you do well, not what every other new kid on the block brand, hot shot coach, designer or non-profit is doing. Then take time to build on that.
Stop being so hard on yourself. Stop looking over your shoulder. Stop trying to be something that they are and something you are not.
You have time to persuade people all the way later.
Image by Damian Tunnicliff.
“If you’re trying to please everyone, then you’re not going to make anything that is honestly yours in the long run.” Viggo Mortensen
Every cafe tells the same story (or tries to anyway); ‘we serve the best coffee.’ Every non- profit tells us how our money will make an impact and every box of detergent promises to clean clothes better than the pack next to it.
So how are you going to tell a different story? One that’s not for everyone.
What other promises can you make and keep? What priceless shortcuts can you offer? What will enable people to connect with your brand? What will make them choose you?
Could you tell a story as different as Sanuk’s, the footwear brand selling shoes that “are not shoes” at all, which “are happiest when they tread the road less travelled”.
How are you going to tell a story that’s different enough to get noticed and true enough to be believed? And who are you going to tell it to?
Image by Fancesco Minciotti.
filed in Storytelling
“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” Dr Seuss
And dead or alive you know that you are going to be ‘Googled’. You may not be able to control what others say about you but you can take steps to tell your own story and actively manage your reputation.
‘Personal branding’ is simply how we market ourselves to others, we do it subconsciously every day in the way we dress, speak and act. Think about it as a way of framing your reputation. In the old days when we lived and worked in the village it was possible to do business and strengthen your reputation just by being the only butcher, baker or candlestick maker in town. That’s a little more difficult to pull off these days.
A Google search for ‘graphic designer’ turns up more than 25 million results and the designer David Airey shows up as one of the first. David has built a personal brand online and stellar reputation in his niche over six years with hard work and generosity.
He did this by:
1. Investing time in creating a reputation by choosing to define who he is and what he stands for with an online presence.
2. Deciding how he would like to be perceived in his niche and setting goals for what he wanted to achieve.
3. Leveraging his online platforms to communicate his ability and showcase his expertise.
5. Evolving his brand as his reputation grew and authoring a book based on this.
7. Giving people in his niche a place to come to stay up to date, interact, acquire and share knowledge.
8. Doing great work for clients he chooses to work with.
All the tools that were available to David six years ago and much more are available to you today.
If your story is going to be told you might as well be the one to tell it.
Image by Shawn Rossi
“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
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.
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 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.
Image by Tilde Shop.
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 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.