Archive for the ‘authenticity’ Category

Joseph Campbell is known to many as George Lucas’ inspiration for the story structure of the original Star Wars films. Dig a little deeper and you find that Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth aka the Hero’s Journey, outlined in his seminal The Hero With A Thousand Faces serves as the basic story structure found in narratives worldwide, since the beginning of time. This Hero’s Journey is what makes the most famous stories universal and also allows us to identify with the protagonist out on their journey, eventually overcoming a challenge to reach a new enlightened state of being. This is classic story structure and the most strategic brand storytellers are very aware of this when creating content meant to authentically engage a following.

At Bolster, we believe the most powerful brand stories are created when a hero is discovered among a brand’s followers and their story is shared in a compelling and cinematic manner and ultimately serves as an example of how that brand is playing the supporting role of the “wise sage” (think Obi Wan Kenobi) that helps our hero achieve their desired state. The following example of this approach in action is from Ebay and is one of the finest I’ve come across (and at half a million views, it’s driving some great results). Not only does it tell a story that highlights Ebay’s brand value, but it does so in a way that we can all connect with. The entire “Ebay Thanks You” series of story-driven content is beautifully conceived and executed and will serve as great benchmark for visual brand storytellers everywhere.

The One That Got Away

And here are a few more from the series Ebay Thanks You, including the anthem that introduces them all.

Anthem

Kingdom Ventures

Wheel & Sprocket

Advertisements

When it comes to sharing the stories of your customers, selecting and documenting an emotionally resonant story helps ensure your content will be shared as much as you had hoped–earned media being the lifeblood of this emerging genre. The amount of brand-created documentary content has grown by reels and bounds this year and some of the most compelling and successful examples of this type of work have been created for Expedia. They’ve unearthed and cinematically documented the stories of Expedia travelers, who are traveling with a purpose. In the two documentaries below, the filmmakers explore why two very unique individuals are travelling across the country and are on a mission to find something – Find your understanding. Find your strength. These brand mantras are given deep meaning as we follow the stories to the heart of what makes travel meaningful.

As you finish watching these films, ask your self “What types of journeys are my customers taking (not just literal journeys, but internal journeys) and how am I helping them to achieve those goals?” This is where any great brand story begins and ends – with helping your customers along on their own hero’s journey.

Find Your Strength

Find Your Understanding

I wanted to share a new Founder’s Story video I created for Chef Erick Harcey at Victory 44 in Minneapolis:

Every truly great company is born from a founder with a driving passion for what they do and a strong vision guiding their work. The realization of those founding principles becomes a story that must be told.

Chef Erick Harcey of Victory 44 in Minneapolis believes that phenomenal food should be accessible to everyone, so he’s created a restaurant unlike any other in Minnesota. It’s a restaurant of chefs – only chefs. They just also do the jobs of the front of house staff, the servers and the restaurant managers. And their unique model, carefully selected menu items and seasonal ingredients let them keep costs very low, putting the dining experience on center stage.

Erick’s story is a founder’s story. It’s one that should never be overlooked when seeking to engage customers (or employees) holistically. By articulating values which customers may identify with, they are far more likely to become patrons for life. And it gives customers a back story to tell their friends about, creating a ready army of word of mouth advocates for your brand.

There’s a new name association game in town that can tell us a whole lot with a little (one word actually). It’s called Brand Tags and you can play the game yourself at http://www.brandtags.net.

The concept here is that the site flashes up a well-known global brand and participants type in the one word that comes to mind when faced with that logo/brand name. There have been 1.7 million brand tags and counting. Once you’ve personally tagged five brands, the real fun begins as you are able to scroll through those 1.7 tags by brand name. Enlightening fodder indeed.

So what do all of these brand tags mean for brand story? They mean that we can and should find brand story themes by listening to our customers.

Let’s take 3M as a case study. If you scroll through 3M’s tags, you’ll notice many words that describe customer perception of 3M – paper, post-it, technology are among the most tagged. But what’s the singularly most tagged word of all for the 3M brand? INNOVATION. Now that sounds like a compelling theme to inform a brand story. And even more importantly than the fact that it’s a compelling theme from which to begin weaving a story is that it came directly from customers of 3M. Which brings us to another major guiding principle of brand storytelling:

The best way to create a truly authentic brand story is by inviting your customers to narrate your story with you.

Your customers’ perceptions and experiences already contribute to the living and evolving story of your brand. And actually, your customers will keep telling stories about your brand whether you invite them to or not. So why not continue to encourage their voices and let those honest and authentic customer experiences guide the themes of your brand stories?

And once you’ve begun (or continue to) identify and refine those core customer experience themes or “brand tags,” the real fun begins: you’ll have some storytelling to do.

“Personal stories make the Ford Story as individual as you are. Read theirs. Submit yours.

Ford has recently launched a new storytelling campaign that is about sharing the stories of those who make Ford trucks part of their everyday lives. And it’s compelling. Just take a look at the OC Fireman profile video at

http://www.thefordstory.com/your-stories/how-we-rely-on-ford-super-duty-trucks-as-fire-fighters/

Sure, you could argue this video portrait is about Ford trucks. But mostly, it isn’t. And that’s the point. It’s about a universal protagonist – firefighters – doing what they do best by selflessly keeping us all safe. And the supporting players that makes it all possible are the Ford trucks they drive to the front lines of fires every day. This is classic story structure at work in a new story-based form of brand building.

A loveable protagonist (Ford’s customers and in this case firefighters) come up against an obstacle: fires that threaten you and me. We’re immediately invested in this protagonist as they are in essence our protectors and well, since 9/11 especially, they are one of the most iconic symbols of goodness in America today. In order to overcome their challenge of keeping the public safe, they need a dependable, strong, sturdy vehicle. Enter Ford trucks. Ford becomes the supporting player that helps the protagonists overcome their challenge and achieve their goal – keeping us safe.

Think for a minute about a story you could tell about a protagonist (your customer) who is overcoming a challenge that affects society at large. How is your product or service helping them achieve their goals? How do their goals help make the world a better place? If you can tell a story that answers these questions, you are one step closer to building your brand through the power of storytelling.

Think of one? Or maybe several? If so, it may be time to discover the best way to share some of your branded stories.