As you may have gathered, I am a strong believer in the power of storytelling as a means of understanding and developing brand value propositions. I know that this is a massive over-simplification (and there are many narrative structures), but generally, the underlying story in a novel builds through tensions to a major climax and then to a resolution. Our brand stories however, are ongoing. They are multiple stories, tensions, climaxes and resolutions. In this way they are more biographies or histories.
I have heard brand stories described as epic poems, perhaps likened to the Odyssey. But those great journeys had a an ultimate destination. For our brands, we would like to see an on-going journey with many interesting stops along the way. I’m reminded of the great poem Ithaca, by C.P. Cavafy;
- Ithaca has given you the beautiful journey.
- Without her you would not have set out on the road.
- Nothing more does she have to give you.
Our brand stories are all about the journeys, not the destination.
Brands are involved in dynamic storytelling
The other similarity brand narratives share with biographies is that they are dynamic. By that I mean it is not the static one-way storytelling of a work of fiction, but involves multiple other stories. Indeed, it is the weaving of the narratives of others that gives the story its richness. A great actor was once asked how he played the role of a king: he responded that he didn’t; it is the way other actors on stage respond to him that makes him look like a king.
It is the interaction of the stories of others with those of the main protagonist (the brand) that is the model for brand-value narratives (BVNs) in the social media arena. Others talk, comment, and tell stories about us that then aggregate to form what we hope will be a long, ongoing narrative.