Story at the executional level vs. strategic level

Storytelling in marketing is not new.  There has always been the knowledge that an advertisement that tells a story is much more compelling than one that just gives a bunch of facts.  “What’s the story of this ad?” Is a common research question.  Using stories in sales presentations and executive speeches have been getting more and more attention.  Marketers are making deliberate choices to use story as a rhetorical device.

That is what I call storytelling at an executional level.

What is new is look at a brand itself as a story.  That is the strategic level.

This is not just a wordplay.  The brand has a story.  A brand like Kellogg’s has a rich past, a strong present and a bright future.  To manage this story, to use it most effectively, requires a framework.  Otherwise it is all intuition or all in the mind of a brand gatekeeper.

There are many ways of looking at story for an execution.  But there are few frameworks for the strategic level of a brand’s story.  What more and more marketers are recognizing is that the existing brand positioning tools are inadequate as a framework for managing the story of a brand.

That is where reinventing marketing is heading.  It is about developing more robust models of branding, taking a more well-rounded view of a brand.  In literature this is the difference between a two-dimensional character and a rounded character.  Dickens was the master of deftly creating rounded characters.  His characters live on today, in many cases known better than the books from which they spring.  Oliver Twist.  Mrs. Malaprop.  Fagin.  David Copperfield, Edwin Drood. Ebenezer Scrooge, Bob Cratchit and, of course, Tiny Tim.

It requires knowing your brand as intimately as an author knows his characters.  Just as Harry Potter has a life outside of the books, a brand needs to have a life outside of it’s advertising.

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