Stories “R” Us

Elevator pitches, 30-second spots, viral videos, strategic PR, the brand called “you.”
Today’s conventional wisdom is that great brands are great at telling us their interesting stories.
And that may be true.
But it’s a superficial view.
In reality, we use our interaction with brands to construct our own stories.
Ones that we want to tell about ourselves.
To ourselves and to others.
When you’re being interesting, you’re really doing it to enhance other’s stories.
Case in point.
Each morning in the 1950s, noted advertising man David Ogilvy would stroll through Central Park.
One beautiful day, he witnessed a man begging beside a sign.
The sign read, “I am blind.”
By evidence of the man’s near empty cup, he wasn’t doing very well. 
So, Ogilvy removed a marker from his briefcase.
And he changed the sign to read, “It is spring and I am blind.”
After that small change, the money poured in.
Our simplistic way of viewing that story is that Ogilvy changed the message.
Thus making it more persuasive.
In fact, what Ogilvy did was much more subtle.
And much more powerful.
Ogilvy changed the prop.
Which transformed the scene.
By doing so, he enhanced the story creation of every passerby.
Those three simple words—”It is spring”—encouraged empathy in the actors.
And brought life to their stories.
That’s what strategically building a strong brand is all about.
Sure it’s about being unique, and creating value and preference.
But it’s also about evoking compassion, passion and self-worth in others.
The American author and critic Mary McCarthy wrote, “We all live in suspense, from day to day, from hour to hour; in other words, we are the hero of our own story.”
Are you trying to build a world-class brand?
Then ask yourself and your team, “Whose stories have we enhanced lately?
Because a brand isn’t a story told.
It’s someone else’s story brought to life.