On Telling Stories

I like telling stories. Not the kind where your mother would yell “Don’t tell stories” as a child but the kind where people get immersed in the tale. Stories take people away from the vagaries of life, from the harsh reality that they find themselves trapped in. Stories allow a person to suspend disbelief, to believe in fantasies, to visit different worlds. Stories give people the opportunity to live those few moments vicariously, to experience what they otherwise never would. Stories inspire people to pursue lofty goals, to hope that there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Stories do all this, provided they are told well.

Branding is also about storytelling. But brands are very real. However, it is through their stories that people can really connect with them. A plain product remains functional. It performs its duties and is relegated back to anonymity. A brand on the other hand performs the function of the product. It also provides an escape of sorts to the consumer, creating an emotional connect to form a long-lasting relationship. And if its story is a truly gripping one, it also allows the consumer to express themselves through its use. That is the hallmark of a story truly well told. For instance, Apple’s story provides all three benefits.

When telling a story, it is important to keep in mind the audience. The story is not about the storyteller, it is about what pulls the audience in. A great brand does exactly that. It intrigues the mind, it appeals to the heart, and it engages the senses until the experience is a truly unique and memorable one, one that the consumer can keep going back to again and again. A stellar example is the Harley Davidson story. The consumer becomes willing to suspend any doubt, to step into the fantasy, to truly enjoy the experience, to be inspired and ultimately, to become one with the brand.

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