I was perusing the interweb doing some reading on storytelling and came across this fantastic article by Jonah Sachs, CEO of branding agency Free Range Studios, and author of Winning the Story Wars: Why Those Who Tell (and Live) the Best Stories Will Rule the Future. Jonah clearly explains to basic fundamentals of the importance and (possibly more important) process of good storytelling. Once brands (individuals, products or organizations) recognize the importance of telling a story to their audience, they can begin to develop the skills to do so effectively. Enjoy.
As the media landscape continues to evolve, audiences are gaining more and more control over the information they view and share. To remain relevant, brands need to know how to tell compelling stories to reach them.
Traditional messages in the old broadcast style — exalt your product and tell your audiences why they need it now — are at best overlooked and forgotten; at worst, ridiculed. But successful stories, such as Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches, can garner 150m YouTube views in a couple of months and supercharge brand awareness and loyalty — without talking about the product at all. This is what success looks like for brands that shift from broadcast messaging to storytelling.
The transformation begins by realizing that your brand is nothing more than an ongoing story–a set of meaningful emotional experiences unfolding between itself and your audiences. Just like stories, brands can be inspiring, clear and actionable, or self-important, bland and confusing. The inspiring ones light up social networks, passing virally from storyteller to storyteller. The others instantly disappear.
Here are four simple steps that will help your brand become effective at storytelling.
Twice a year I have the privilege to speak to a group of students pursuing the art of Wedding Coordination. My wife teaches the certification course at Cal Poly Pomona and invites me to speak to them about branding, marketing and design.
It’s always an engaging conversation which usually lends itself to an extended time of Q&A. Here’s a bit of what I share…
1. Your Brand is You…knowing who you are is the foundation of building your brand
2. What is Your Art?…being clear about what it is you make; what you provide
3. Setting Your Destination…knowing where you are going defines your vision and mission
4. Telling Your Story…effectively communicating who you are, where you’re going and what you do to those who you wish to partner with
5. The Icing on the Cake…implementing design to support your story and create a positive first impression
6. Time to Knock on Doors…thinking through strategic marketing via social media, tradition collateral and beyond
My hope is that, though this is fairly brief, it would give some direction to Wedding Planners or anyone else with an idea and a willingness to connect that idea to society.
I spent some time on Pinterest lately digging through branding & marketing quotes. Quotes like, “Your brand is what people say when you’re not in the room.” Rethinking our understanding of branding is imperative. When we think of branding as merely a cool design or great presentation, we miss the point and so will our customers.
Here are a handful of quotes I stumbled across on Pinterest…enjoy.
Frustrated by stupid client criticism, Irish graphic designers Mark Shanley and Paddy Treacy decided to turn their “favorite worst feedback” into posters. The guys worked together on so-called “Sharp Suits” series with a team of other ad creatives, designers, animators, directors, illustrators and more, who must’ve all appreciated a chance to let out some of their exasperation in a creative way.
The series was exhibited at The Little Green Café, Bar and Gallery in November, giving a chance to purchase an A3 poster of your choice. The guys, however, received so many orders during a 5 day exhibition, that they’ve already stopped accepting them. All the thousands of euros they claim to have raised were donated to the Temple Street Children Hospital.
For as long as I could remember, I have been an artist. I saw my first Picasso exhibit at 6; art was my favorite subject throughout school. About 11 years ago, a friend needed my help making some flyers. I was a bit lost, so he hooked me up with a copy of Photoshop 5. I learned the heck out of it. I began creating flyers and business cards for more friends, until I eventually tried my hand at turning it into a business.
I would get so frustrated with my friends & clients, because I wanted them to have the coolest, hottest designs around, yet they were just looking for something that helped sell their business. I started digging through as many marketing books as I could stand…learning everything I could about branding, strategy and human behavior.
After fighting with clients for years, I finally began listening to them and their potential customers. Asking questions like, “what makes your customer happy? What is your story? What do want your customers to do?” I quickly began to realize that it was not about the pretty pictures I could create, but more importantly about the reaction they provoked.
As I started referring to myself as a “Strategic Designer”, it provided a simple way to start the right conversations with my clients. It provided a simple way to let clients know that I wasn’t just about making pretty pictures, but about making them successful in their marketing journey.
I see a lot of logos being created that have seem to just not work. Some folks believe that their logo has to make it clear what their business is all about. While this does help sometimes, the truth is that there are really only two fundamental principles needed in a good logo…it should be easy to recognize and should be memorable. Here are a few good simple examples.
Logos…usually one of the first things a new company works on to create the brand imaging they desire. Here a few things to keep in mind, whether designing your own logo or outsourcing it to a designer (which I highly recommend).
- Do Your Homework: You must begin with research. Your logo is your visual brand, usually the first impression the consumer sees. As you build your brand, your logo and your brand start to become the same. Don’t just pick some cool icon that means nothing at all. Ask yourself who your target audience is and what makes them tick. Can your logo stand alone or does it need explaining? Does it motivate your target to action? You may consider creating a small (not your friends/family) focus group to present a handful of ideas to. Heck, why not invite some folks from your target audience to brainstorm with you.
- A Name Unlike Any Other Name: In the world of branding, a strong and unique name is very important. Do you want a name (or a logo) that looks and sounds like everyone else? Why should people pick you over everyone else. Why do you stand out? The other benefit of a strong name is they are easier to remember. Think of Lexus and you really don’t confuse it with anything else. Same goes for Mountain Dew. Whereas names like Watson & Co or London Mart may be forgotten by people easily. Make sure your name doesn’t leave people confused, tell them our story.
- Build Trust: What comes to mind when you see Huggies or FedEx or Amazon.com? When a Mercedes or Lexus passes you on the road, are you thinking that they make a great luxury car? If you are like most of us, you do. So while you may not have purchased a Mercedes or Lexus, they have logos that are instantly recognizable and are trusted. It’s not the logo that you trust, as much as the reputation of the brand. Remember that your brand is more than your logo, it’s your product, customer service, parking and even availability.
- Be Distinctive & Unique: A logo should be unique and unlike other companies in their niche. Looking like another company might initially seem like a good idea, but you are likely to be seen as a copycat and one that can’t think of an original thought. So make your logo stand out by being unique and unlike others in your niche.
- Details: (Typography, Color, Shape, Scale): A powerful logo should portray the company’s image and must be created in such a way that a normal person may understand the concept which the logo designer is trying to give in his logo. Like many things, a great logo pays attentions to the details. It should represent the niche of the company or the product for which the logo is designed. In other words, you should have an idea of what your company does by looking at your logo. The colors & shape should be characteristic of the company or product’s nature. There is a rich that deep rich colors go with high end merchandise. So give that thought and if the company has a slogan then it should also be representing it. Also remember that it should be legible even at small sizes and should still tell the same story when when replicated in black and white with no shading.
Brands personify organizations and their products and services. That is, brands allow non-human entities to take on human qualities such as trustworthiness, authenticity, vitality and reliability.
In this way, brands enable entities to create emotional connections with customers and potential customers, resulting in more frequent usage and greater loyalty.
Brands are also the sources of promises to customers.
Brands are also the sources of promises to customers. They promise relevant differentiated benefits. Most people associate only one or two attributes with any organization, product or service. Well thought-out branding increases the likelihood that the attributes chosen are relevant, believable, compelling, and are customer benefits that motivate purchase or usage.
Proper brand positioning can ensure that people perceive the brand in ways that achieve organizational objectives. Diligent brand management efforts can move people from considering the brand (when they have specific needs), to preferring the brand, to purchasing the brand, to being completely loyal to the brand, to enthusiastically recommending the brand to others.