I had a discussion recently with my coach Michael Felberbaum about brand stories. Michael’s education was in philosophy, so he can be (by his own account) rather literal. So he asked me, “tell me more about how stories are important in branding and, what do you mean when you say “story?”
I explained that stories are how people connect and engage with the world, as well as brands. A successful brand looks to become a part of a person’s personal story. “I am a Harvard Man” (actually, I am a Babson and Penn woman!) is a great example. To which, Michael responded “you mean perceptions, right? I mean, that’s not really a story – where’s the narrative? The main character? The antagonist?” OK, I give. He’s right. But that’s part of the point. Most of the time, in fact all day long, we hear little bits and fragments of stories. It’s the ones that have personal meaning that resonate and create enduring connections. And, therein is the narrative. For example, when I shop at Whole Foods I buy into the whole eco-earth friendly story that they tell. I feel like a better person – instantaneously adopting their story as part of my own. Suddenly, just for shopping there, I am an eco-friendly person concerned about local and organic farming, sustainability and more! It’s not just about buying groceries, its about engaging as participant in the Whole Foods story. You think I’m going to go back to shopping at ACME now?