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Building suspense and counting heartbeats. A hero and a villain. The protagonist makes key decisions that affect the plot, primarily influencing the story and propelling it forward. The fate of the hero is closely followed by the reader or audience. Narrative structure. In comes the antagonist and creates obstacles, complications and conflicts with the protagonist, revealing the strengths and weaknesses of the hero. Character development. Connecting the dots or being surprised by the intrigues? Audience engagement. Anticlimax and death of the hero; how can the movie possibly continue? Where is this book taking me? Soft romantic ending or confronted by a powerful message?   

These terms and questions once lived only in the arts.  In the movies and plays we saw, in the books we read. But today, they are critical to brand success in a changing world where the life of a brand is growing much more dynamic, and where the consumer is looking for relevant content across all possible touch points. 

A brand story is what keeps it all together.

When companies don’t have a brand story, they don’t have glue. And when they don’t have glue, whatever sticker they chose, will fall off.  There is nothing secretive about successful brands and companies. They just happen to require genuine hard work to get it right. Because the way to the audience’s heart (and loyalty) is through a compelling and memorable story. It’s as simple as that. But simple is not easy and anything that lacks authenticity or doesn’t come from the heart, will ever be compelling, nor memorable. 

Storytelling is what makes us human. 

It has always been the most important connecting factor. From cave paintings to bio sections on company websites. Our history as species rests on the foundation of the evolution of how we tell our stories, and how we communicate. They are part of who we are. That’s why you can’t fake it. And that’s why stories are a critical part of your branding and brand identity – probably the most important part. Because that’s the story you will use for your marketing; to present and represent you. Brand is the story of your business, and emphasizing that story only has benefits for your business as a whole. 

Too many people talk about marketing like they know what they’re talking about.  

They don’t. Marketing is exactly what the word says, making a verb out of the world of markets. Branding is about knowing yourself before you go to market. And the relationship between the two can be tricky, for the lazy ones. Branding without marketing can work just fine, but marketing without branding, well, it’s like using noodles and calling it pasta.  And let us be frank; all those who don’t know who they are, and what they really want before going to market, will be eaten alive by consumers; the audience. For magic to happen, on stage, through a book or for a brand, for goosebumps to appear, to unite people and visions; the answer will always be storytelling. 

Building and communicating brand story 

In any storytelling process, if you’re not using the screenwriter’s toolkit, best practices in brand management and resonant methods to build the most advantageous story structure and heartfelt narrative, you’re not telling a story. And telling a good story is the biggest industry of all. The most optimal combination is that of methodological education and hands-on creation; the storytelling will provide different teams within the supply chain with a repeatable method for brand story design. Leveraging scriptwriting devices such as inciting incidents, controlling ideas and genres, teams can build a brand story structure that motivates target customers, provides strategic clarity, creates an emotional connection and, most importantly, identifies the unique and authentic characteristics of the company that drives the entire brand story. 

When companies take storytelling and brand stories lightly, they never hit the heart. And some marketing people have the nerve to ask why the market doesn’t love their brands. It’s not that difficult if you ask me; invest some heart, and people will start loving. 

Rana Eshtiagh