Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Ten Elements of a Compelling Brand Story, Part 1

I’ve already covered some of the reasons why you should put storytelling to work for your brand when selling to Baby Boomers. Now it’s time for some nuts and bolts. The techniques of good storytelling are easy to describe but difficult to master. Still, it pays to consider some of the common characteristics that all good stories share. So, here are some things you should consider as you begin to think about how you might create and tell the story of your brand.

1. Center on one clear theme. Use a theme that resonates with Baby Boomers, and you’ll be able to communicate in a way that seems timeless to them. Begin by asking how you can position your brand using a universal Boomer value like individualism. Think in terms of a big, dramatic idea that you can use in a compelling message that rings true with Boomers on a gut level. And whether you state the theme explicitly or imply it abstractly, make sure that it comes through in a way that showcases its effect on the individual, as well as contemporary life. Ultimately, the theme should showcase your product as a hero, of sorts.

2. Develop a dramatic plot. This may be the most important element, because a brand story needs to have dramatic impact to cut through the communication clutter in today’s world. The only way Boomers will pay attention to your story is if you bring out the inherent drama of your brand in a clearly developed sequence of events. Whether the flow of action is explicit or implicit, plot development must be reasonable and easy to follow to motivate Boomers to embrace your theme.

3. Craft a logical storyline. If you want Boomers to follow your brand story, the plot has to flow in a simple, concise way. You begin by setting the stage for the action to come, introducing characters as they become players in the inherent drama of your brand’s story. In the end, the drama builds to a compelling climax, as the brand is positioned as the “hero” that brings the story to a satisfactory resolution. As you tell the story, vary the ebb and flow of the action. Make sure that transitions are smooth, and that characters have every opportunity to interact meaningfully.

4. Create realistic characters. Stories are about characters, so make them seem real, even if they take on a nonhuman form, like the tortoise and the hare. Storytelling is useless unless the audience can feel what the characters are experiencing and why. You make characters believable by physically describing them, as well as their actions, thoughts and speech. Well-developed characters encourage the audience to get inside their skin—to empathize and sympathize with them. That’s why you must fill your story with lively personalities that others want to know. Breathe life into your characters, and they’ll be convincing.

5. Write with ear and eye-appeal. Diction level, sentence structure, voice and content are all important elements of storytelling. Combine them in a way that’s appropriate to the audience, and your story will rest easy on the ears, making it all the more welcome to the listener. Imagery and words should always be used in a way that paints a vivid picture of each scenario, helping you establish a mood that harmonizes with the message.

Tomorrow’s blog will cover the next five elements you should consider when creating your brand story.

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