The Future is for Storytelling

What story does your brand tell?

We’ve talked about promoting your brand by telling your story, your way. The future is for brand storytelling. Brands that do a better job of communicating their brand promise through stories will perform better than those that don’t. Consumers love stories. We especially like underdog stories. The little guy scratches out a win.

For example, Weight Watchers is now using Oprah Winfrey to tell their story.*

If you’ve followed Oprah at all over the past 30 years, you know that she’s struggled with her weight most of that time. Unlike you and I who might have the same struggles, Oprah had hers in front of a huge national TV audience. Every pound lost and every pound gained was reported by the tabloid media like the results of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. During various times in her career, her weight got out of control. She would combat her obesity with special diets and professional trainers. Every out of control weight episode was followed by a slim down. Over time, the weight would come back and eventually get out of control again. The cycle continued for most of her career.

So what does this have to do with storytelling?

Another well-known brand, Volkswagen, has been using storytelling to promote its brand for years. But recently, they had a little problem.

It turns out that VW was playing fast and loose with their emissions figures. Actually, it’s worse than that. They installed software on their diesel vehicles to cheat the U.S. emissions tests. The result, according to the New York Times, is 600,000 vehicles spewing out more pollution that allowed and worse, in my opinion, lawsuits from outraged customers and a general loss of brand equity.

The sham started a decade ago when VW made the decision to bring more diesel vehicles to the U.S. Again according to The New York Times, the Justice Department penalty could approach $19 Billion. And while that’s not chump change, the damage to consumer confidence could potentially be even bigger.

In an effort to win back jaded customers, Volkswagen is now airing commercial spots about a dad spending the day with a couple kids and having fun. The wholesome nature is, I suspect, an attempt to repair damaged credibility. See for yourself:

The VW commercial is cute. It’s not a typical screamer-blaster car ad. It’s a nice lifestyle piece with a family value bent. However, I clearly recognize that they’re trying to rebuild a tarnished reputation. In the wake of the scandal, it’s not working, at least on me.

By comparison, the Oprah ads for Weight Watchers are fabulous. I’m no big Oprah fan, but come on. The ad is personal, it’s hard, it’s real. Everyone in America over 30 years of age knows of Oprah’s weight struggle. This version of storytelling aligns both with her personal story and with the Weight Watchers story. This is storytelling with truth and heart.

The moral of storytelling: it’s got to be real. If you’re telling stories of your brand, they have to support your brand promise and be true.

 

Note: * According to Bloomberg, Oprah formalized a relationship with Weight Watchers last fall by acquiring a 10% stake in the company estimated to be worth around $43 Million and a seat on the Board. Since, her total holdings have grown to approximately 15% including stock options and a total value of around $150 Million. Some might say that this is just another business deal for Oprah Winfrey. Maybe so. But if she can use her struggles with weight to more than triple her money, I tip my hat!

 

If you need help telling your brand story, give us a call.

 

 

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Originally posted on: Jan 5, 2016

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Meet the Author

As an entrepreneur and coach, I have helped hundreds of others become successful entrepreneurs themselves. I understand how to hone a business model, launch a business and keep it growing, by applying real world knowledge with the skill that only comes from years of experience.

I’ve been fortunate to have lived in different parts of the country and had many different ...
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