December 20ninth, 2011  /  A publication by 20nine

 

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Is 2012 the Year of the Brand Story?
 

You know them. You love them. How the Grinch Stole Christmas. A Christmas Story. It’s a Wonderful Life. These are the holiday favorites that continue to warm our hearts and bring families together this time of year. The question is: what do these classics have to do with brand marketing and growing your business in 2012?

 
 
 
Calypso Bay Spritz
 

What do you get when you combine winter in Madison, Wisconsin and Boston, Massachusetts and Calypso Bay Spritz premium malt beverage? An out-of-the-box sweepstakes called A Hot Night in the Cold City, of course. In this month’s featured work see how Seattle-based American Vintage Beverage challenged 20nine to disrupt the typical winter sweepstakes in the beverage category.

 
 
 
 
NOT A BLAH-G
 
 
THE MOST CHALLENGING BRANDING PROJECT...EVER
 
 
20Eleven
 
Holiday Office Pary, See Pics Now!
 
Upcoming Work: Florida Peninsula
 

Palm trees, sandy beaches and sunny days. Keep an eye out for next months featured project – Florida Peninsula. It’s sure to keep you warm during these cold, winter months.

 
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Is 2012 the Year of the Brand Story?
 

You know them. You love them. How the Grinch Stole Christmas. A Christmas Story. It’s a Wonderful Life. These are the holiday favorites that continue to warm our hearts and bring families together this time of year. The question is: what do these classics have to do with brand marketing and growing your business in 2012?

They all tell great stories. So should your brand.

Frankly, many people believe–and we tend to agree–that marketers and their agencies have lost their love of a good story. They have become seduced and reduced by quick-hit tactics, shiny new technologies and the latest Flash techniques that make our work dance and sing, but do nothing to advance the story.

As technology continues to expand and new communication channels are created, it’s more important than ever that marketers understand the power of creating compelling core stories for their products, services and even the company itself. Social platforms like Facebook and Twitter are no longer new or exotic, they’re fundamental to a brand’s success. So being able to cultivate and communicate your story across channels will be the only way to stay relevant and keep consumers engaged in your brand.

Then there’s the simple fact that human beings are social animals. We love stories. We love hearing them. Telling them. Retelling them. Finding our place in them. We communicate through stories and define our experiences on the planet through the transmission of them. Yet what most marketers fail to realize is that your core brand story can be your one–and often, only–competitive advantage.

Want to build a great core story that your customers care about? Here are a few quick tips that you can incorporate into telling your story in 2012:

  1. What’s your message? Based on the four elements of storytelling described in Storytelling: Branding in Practice by Klaus Fog, Christian Budtz and Baris Yakaboylu, before you begin thinking about telling stories about your brand, you need to develop a strong strategic premise or as screenwriters call it, a central theme. "America runs on Dunkin’." "McDonald’s is food, folks and fun." "Target is cheap chic." At 20nine, we call it finding your Master Motivating Idea.™ It’s the unifying thread or core theme that runs through everything you do. Chipotle has built an incredible brand around the Master Motivating Idea of "Food with Integrity." GE did it with "We bring good things to life." These messages are simple. Powerful. Expansive. Yours should be, too.
  2. Where’s the conflict? We all know the value of tension in a tightly wound story. As Fog and company explains, "Imagine Jaws without a hungry great white shark, Superman without kryptonite or Little Red Riding Hood without a ferocious wolf." In other words, we need to create conflict or tension in order to create value and meaning around our brand. Look at healthcare marketing. Most of the advertising we see is based on the conflict of a patient battling the effects of injury, illness or disease. A powerful personal story is an effective way to build impactful stories. Ask yourself, where is the conflict in your category or in the lives of your core audience that you could help resolve?
  3. What is your brand’s character? What other characters have a role in your story? Are they interesting and compelling? Stories need heroes we can care about and root for. Have you taken the time to personify your brand, and humanize your company and your goals in a way core audiences can connect with? For example, building the LIVESTRONG brand revolved around the hero of Lance Armstrong and the goal of eradicating cancer. Another might be Method, the maker of non-toxic cleaning products. Their story revolves around advancing the notion of cleaning your home and killing germs without harming the planet. Create a very rich story full of conflict that your brand, as the hero, can resolve.
  4. How will your story flow? Once you’ve gotten all your other elements together, figuring out the plot of your story is how you make it flow and move. Who will engage with your story and how will you reach them? In other words, we’re talking about getting your story popping on Facebook, Twitter and the Blogosphere. At 20nine, we talk about it as “creating a brand story that spreads.” You’ll need to think about and optimize the channels you choose to use. It’s recommended at least at the start to “do less, better” in that, instead of just randomly pushing your story out, be more judicious and strategic about choosing channels that make sense given your core audience, and their online habits.

Unlike traditional storytelling, a great brand story doesn’t end. It’s always unfolding, and engaging audiences in new and interesting ways. If 2012 truly is the Year of the Brand Story, make sure your story is the brightly packaged Red Rider air rifle under the brand tree. {Editor’s note: Be careful. You’ll shoot your eye out.}

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Favorite Holiday Treats
 
 
 
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