Have you ever been to a social gathering, standing in a circle of 5-6 people, when two people launch into two different stories at once? They both pause and exchange social cues to insist the other continue. Finally, one person takes the floor, and starts their story from the top.
What if we lived in a world without social cues, and both of those people just continued talking over one another? I actually have had this experience with intoxicated people, and I usually walk away because I can't hear either story. That volume of interruption (times 10) is where we're at when it comes to telling Brand Stories to consumers.
Traditional Advertising and Marketing relies on the notion that every person is comprised of both their current self and the self they wish to become. These industries cater to the latter -- the aspirational self.
From college seminar to company conference room, Marketing 101 teaches that the most effective way to tap into that aspirational self is through storytelling and therefore, that the telling of the Brand Story is the most effective way to reach consumers. As Digital opened up a plethora of new channels through which brands could tell their stories they began to flood fresh infowaves.
The Branded Content universe has become saturated so quickly, we're now in the age of the disconnected consumer. Not physically disconnected, but emotionally disconnected. We're becoming hyper-focused on utility and convenience and we really don't care so much about a brand's story when it comes to connecting with them. We'll toss a smiley emoticon or a "Like" at it, but it has no value in our daily living.
Susie Sallypants doesn't have enough hours in a day to watch and read stories about her favorite soda, granola bar, clothing company, bra manufacturer, restaurant, gym, and car. She also won't make the time to do so when the information available doesn't directly pertain to or enhance the moment in which she is.
Hence, our reality is one of conflicting needs -- brands who have been sold the idea they should use new channels to tell their Brand Story and consumers that care about brand messages only when they offer utility.
The true legacy of Steve Jobs as a business visionary is that he knew how to keep his employees engaged and aligned around the vision and mission of Apple. It was the way he lived Apple's Brand Story through command, design, innovation, and persistence, that inspired his employees.
His example plus the current market climate, teaches us that the ones in real need of falling in love with a Brand Story are the people that work for it.
Why does everyone hate their job? It's because they are the ones emotionally disconnected from the brand, and therefore, their purpose within a larger picture. They aren't focusing on answers to questions such as: What is my company accomplishing on planet earth? Who started the company and why? What value is my company providing to our customers (whether B2B or B2C) and how does this value impact and change lives?
There is real emotion and meaning within those answers. There's inspiration and love in that telling of the Brand Story.
So, should companies continue to tell their Brand Story? Yes, but they need to redirect its attention to a new audience and as a result, create new Brand Storytellers. It must be told, refined, and used where it can make the most profound impact -- in the workplace. It is only when an employee understands, connects with, and lives this story, that they will innovate to push it further. That's the heart of sustainable growth and it's the first step in becoming a Digital Business that adapts to the law of Customer Experience. The ripple effect resonates from that point.
Forget the investment in Influencer campaigns (starting at $8k/month). What about repurposing that investment internally towards workshops, technology, or process improvement to make your employees experience purveyors who in turn will naturally influence others? The sentiment of holiday parties, company retreats, and Summer Fridays for flip-flop lovers is good, but how can we inspire employees to love their company 365 days a year? The Brand Story is how.
Image credits: Reddit, Google, & other fine humans