There’s a lot of talk these days about brands needing to be “storytellers”. Especially FMCG brands that have gone into epic overdrive. But what does this mean for organizations, especially those facing defining moments in their histories?
It doesn’t mean a lot of meaningless chatter on social media, or creating false mythologies about your business, or pretending it can talk. In our view, this has trivialized the impact the narrative can achieve when used with purpose.
What it does or can mean starts with understanding why we as human beings tell stories in the first place, and how we can apply what makes for a compelling story in the entertainment space to the business of building brands and communicating what they have to offer all their audiences. Used effectively, narrative translates strategy from abstract intent to tangible action. This is of utmost importance during times of transformation.
At Thackway McCord we call these times “defining moments”. Great brands and great stories emerge from such moments. A new CEO, a merger, an IPO, a competitive threat, diversification, a new direction. They may come in the guise of challenges, but we see them for what they truly are: opportunities to strengthen your brand, build value in your business, and open a new chapter on its story. It’s not about looking back, but forward, and using change and the challenges it brings to re-engage all audiences in this story.
Storytelling is a uniquely human, completely universal form of communication. We told stories long before we wrote them down, to help explain our world and convey survival-critical information about it. We told stories to help nurture belonging, and forge bonds of community among tribal units. And we told stories to inspire others to see our view of the world, and join us in trying to change it. The very things brands attempt, but with eons of evolutionary first-mover advantage. We are predisposed as a species to receive and act on information presented as narrative.
Great storytellers simply exploit this predisposition for entertainment and profit. What works for compelling entertainment narratives also applies to corporate brand building. Especially when responding to those business-critical “defining moments” that compel organizations to take stock of who they are, what they have to offer and what lies ahead of them. This is precisely what the hero does at the start of every film, when similarly compelled to respond to the challenges that test their mettle. We follow them as audiences only if we believe in them, care what happens to them, and want to go on the journey with them.
Ensure your brand can do the same, when those defining moments present themselves.
(Based on conversations with our good friend, Dr. Robert Mighall, author of Only Connect)