Definition: What is Brand Storytelling?

Every brand tells a story. Some just tell a better story than others.

1370838-1004004-thumbnail.jpgFor example, when you sit in a Volvo, you should feel…safe. Volvo supports this story with a long history of safety innovation from anti-lock brakes to crumble-free zones. “Boxy but safe” – remember the 90’s movie Crazy People with Dudley Moore playing an ad guy gone mad? Volvo is not sexy, or cheap – it’s for families that care about safety. Every brand experience is designed to reinforce this larger brand story. Even the front radiator grill of a Volvo car conveys a seat-belt strap and sense of security.

The other dimension at play here is emotion. I like to define a brand as the emotional connection between a customer and a product. For Volvo – its safety. Harley – its freedom. And, Apple – its creative expression. There’s an intimate relationship that people have with the brands they value in their life. Brand are meant to reduce the complexities of life’s decisions into a choice you can trust. Brands also take you on a journey into the realm of the unordinary.  It’s not coffee, it’s a Starbucks.

Which brands have meaning or purpose in your life? For me, its brands like Amazon.com, Tivo, and American Express. Each of these brands makes me feel special, that they care about me – and make my life easier or more enjoyable. I would be sad to wake up one day, and find that any one of these brands had disappeared. There are other brands that make me feel proud or that I admire – The Daily Show’s couragious conviction; Amnesty International’s unglamorous fight for human rights; the quality and unique formulations of health supplements by Garden of Life.

As Kevin Roberts, CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi points out: while many brands garner our respect, the most distinctive brands garner our love and devotion. What he calls “Lovemarks” is the future beyond brands. How are you generating a sense of love and devotion with your brand?