Tuesday April 9th, 2013

Once upon a time: Does your brand have a story or a narrative?

Think back to your childhood and consider what kept you more engaged. Was it watching a story unfold on your favorite television program? Or was it spending hours the next day re-enacting your own version of events in the backyard with all the neighbor kids?

Granted, we love our programs. They keep us entertained…for an hour or two. But when that story becomes our own, at least in part – when our decisions or actions have a direct impact on the ongoing outcomes, then we become invested.

Branding is an undertaking for grown ups, but the ideology is the same. John Hagel, co-chairman of Deloitte Center for the Edge, made the case for “Moving from Story to Narrative” at SXSW in Austin a few weeks ago.

“Narratives motivate actions,” Hagel noted. “Stories don’t do this. Every powerful movement that has impacted our world has been shaped and energized by a potent narrative.” Think Christianity. The American dream. Or Apple’s “Think different” campaign: you dream, decide, and act; Apple provides the means to your end.

Speaking of which…whether you’re ready for it or not, all great stories eventually come to an end. A narrative has legs that walk into the future. Which does your brand tell?