The rise of fake news – apart from signalling our civilisation’s downward spiral into oblivion – shows the limitation of facts and figures. In this day and age, cold hard logic only gets you so far. More important, it seems, is the broader narrative it feeds into.
Like or loathe them, Trump and his Brexiteer brethren get this. They understood from the beginning that the best way to create and lead a tribe is to wrap your vision in a story that fires the imagination and stirs the soul.
Tesco had its work cut out to turn around a nightmarish run which culminated in £2bn being wiped off its stock market value. But by focusing on a new narrative – taking the ordinary British consumer’s side (for example, against Unilever) – it did exactly that, winning Campaign’s coveted Brand Story of the Year.
Successful marketers have long known the power of storytelling to create a bond between you and your customer. A pact that’s based on a shared connection and mutual trust creates first the desire, then the impetus for action or change.
There are two big challenges. First is to come up with a compelling story that engages the right audiences and creates the intended response. The first thing we do with any new client is to run a storytelling workshop which uses a range of techniques to identify that all-important central narrative.
The most effective stories are both simple and substantial. You should be able to tell it in just a few sentences but it should also have enough behind it to capture someone’s attention throughout a 60,000 word book if necessary.
The second challenge is to tell this story consistently across every touchpoint. Ask yourself:- What goes through a prospective customer’s mind when they hear your company name or see your logo for the first time?
– How do they respond when they visit the website or interact on social media?
– What do they think of your sales or marketing materials?
– What do they feel when they meet an employee face-to-face?
– What impression do they get when someone talks about you?
Everything you do and say should project this narrative in some shape or form.
It’s clear that when it comes to Donald Trump and Nigel Farage, what you see is what you get. Whether they’re speaking on the radio, ranting on Twitter or firing up the masses at a town hall meeting, the story and its delivery remains largely the same.
I’m not sure it’d appreciate the comparison, but the same can be said of Tesco. They have a simple story built around delivering modest but important improvements to their customers’ day-to-day lives. It’s a narrative that is told again and again in a variety of ways, whether it be a spot ad campaign, the introduction of ‘farm’ brands for economy produce or making more, better trained staff available in store.
It’s clear to me that the route to business success is better brand storytelling. Our mantra as marketers should therefore be cutting-edge creative with consistent communication.