Being sold to. We all hate it…

Published 11.11.2012

… but we all love stories. We always have. And we always will.

So why, oh why, do businesses and brands forget what stories can do?

Stories give a brand a sophisticated medium to connect with consumers. To touch their hearts. To connect with them. And to show their consumers who they are, and what they stand for.

Storytelling gives a brand an opportunity to cut-through. To differentiate. To stand out. Stand up. And stand for something. It allows complex communications challenges to be broken down into magical moments that lower a consumers barriers and resistance.

As they always have, stories connect. We love them.

Great brands understand that storytelling (read: brand building) creates a backdrop for powerful below the line, tactical and promotional work. Without it, sales driven activity alone delivers diminishing returns, and low brand power.

I am an absolute advocate for storytelling. Always have been. Every client I have spoken to at any length will have heard these word from me. “If you have a story. Tell it. Tell it. And tell it again. If you don’t have a story, but you have the potential to be a big brand… you will get there (and stay there) by standing for something, and finding a way to tell THAT story.”

Every (GREAT, PROFITABLE & GROWING) brand has a story. It’s not a bold statement. The only business that break that rule have some kind of unfair advantage.

I’ll validate that claim with three examples. Apple. Virgin. John Lewis.

They have stories. They tell them. They live by them. They don’t pretend at being a brand. They live it. We all understand them. We trust them. And they have charmed their way into our lives, and through the deepest recession in a generation they have grown, out-performed their markets and created ever-more powerful levels of advocacy.

To re-emphasize my point… people hate advertising… but love stories…

Honda ‘Cog’. Guiness ‘Wild Horses’. Hovis ‘Bike round’. These aren’t brands in the ascension now. But at the time of those stories being told, they were.

The credit crunch, could have been renamed the confidence crunch from an advertising perspective. Some brands invested and focused on their story and connecting with the customers. In fact, they reinvented themselves. Those above for example. And others…  Compare the Market. Go Compare even (they may not have a compelling story. But they told one nonetheless).

Some promoted themselves to within an inch of their existence, and lost all brand power. And their lives. Comet. JJB. Woolworths. The list goes on. And on. And on. Tell me, honestly, do you know what they stood for at the time they locked their doors for the last time? Honestly? No. No-one did.

Stories are they way in. Not the entire solution. And it takes real confidence (and brand intelligence) to place investment in story-telling.

Even the likes of JLP, Apple, Sky and Virgin have to run promotions to drive sales and customer acquisitions. But they do so with huge levels of trust, belief, awareness and understanding. That come from their brand.

Answer me this. Which one of these type of offers sounds more compelling?
50% off all Apple products.


50% sale.

And that’s because they’ve told their story. And like all great stories… I can remember it. And I cam compelled to retell it (SHARE IT) because of the connection they’ve established with me. Their promotions don’t detract from their business, because they have a brand. A story.

Stories are the gateway for business and consumer brands to connect. Always have been. Always will. And advertising at its best doesn’t have a 50% flash on it.

Advertising, in whatever channel, is at its best when it creates something incredibly powerful. Believers.