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Stories

17 Jun

Life really is about stories and the older you become, hopefully the more you have! I just went to a school reunion last weekend and it’s amazing how people’s lives have worked out, the direction they took and the stories they have to share. I went to school before the days of the internet (and no I’m not that old)! So if we wanted to keep in contact with someone it was via snail mail or a home phone line. With many people moving, living overseas, many of their parents having a sea change, keeping in contact became quite difficult. Sharing content has always been innate to us, and at Christmas we would snail mail photos to let our friends & family know what was going on in our life, sharing our experiences with them.

 

Communication today is far easier through technological advances and platforms. It wasn’t that long ago we had to send off our films to get our photos developed and printed. Kodak sure didn’t see the digital age looming (even though one of their engineers Steve Sasson invented the first digital camera in 1975). Kodak’s management stated to filmless photography, ‘that’s cute – but don’t tell anyone about it.’

 

Brands use stories and pictures for communication. As we can learn vicariously through these stories, learning by watching, reading or listening to others, brand engagement via story telling can be very powerful. People can relate to your brand story if a brand shows authenticity and transparency. And these brands will differ from person to person, and the perceptions that we have about that brand.

 

However, some brands just don’t get it and while they try to use co-creational strategies of crowd-sourcing, their story has flaws and inconsistencies, and shows no relevance to our life. Crafting a story that will relate to everyone won’t usually work, as a brand’s target audiences are so diverse. 

 

Stories are a wonderful instrument for a brand to have. They can engage, create emotional connections, and create long-term involvement and loyalty. But brands need to ask, what are the objectives of this story? What is the core message? Am I wasting this opportunity? Consumers are fickle, they don’t need to be entertained all of the time, so find out what stories emotionally connect with them and how they want to receive them. All communication is not via words, but pictures, video and who knows what technology has in store for us with Google Glass or the next big innovation. But remember that these stories or pictures are usually fleeting, and consumers have moved on to the next story. So keep it consistent, and people won’t get confused. I’m sure there are loads more examples out there, but think Coke using simplicity and longevity in their ‘Happiness’ or ‘Summer’ campaigns. I’m not sure about you, but very strong and personal images throughout my life come to mind.

I wonder what stories will be shared in another ten years time at my next reunion? 

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