Brand StoryTelling: The Good and The Bad

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c/o: Contently Press

People crave stories, and an integral part of being human is that every individual lives their own unique story. It is the individual inherent attraction to stories that makes brand storytelling so powerful. It allows for the formation of a personal partnership between the brand and the being. Facilitating this connection through the creation of compelling brand storytelling is what encourages customers, prospective employees and suppliers to want to be a part of a company’s story.

The key to brand storytelling is making sure you are depicting the right type of story for your community. In order to tell good stories you must first determine your own brand story. To understand your story takes time and effort. You must dig deep into the vaults of your brands history and into the minds and lives of your customers, employees and stakeholders. Your brand story has to resonate with people at a level that goes beyond what is tangible-functionality, features, and the benefits of your product and service- and instead create a deep, emotional, connection with out audience.

In this blog we will examine two brands: McDonalds and Skype. Both have utilized the tactic of brand storytelling with varying degrees of success. Below we will examine whether the use of storytelling was of benefit or detriment to their brand.

McDonalds:

This ad was titled “The Writer”. It featured a middle-aged women, who frequents the same McDonalds to work on her writing. The commercial takes a strange turn when the main character seems to have a strange obsession with Daniel, the McDonald’s cashier who assists her during her visits. The ad culminates in the publication of the protagonist’s book with the first page recognizing David for “Always Being There”.

Captivating brand storytelling is done through capturing the brand identity and values of a company in a way that aligns with the story being told. When I think of McDonalds; voyeuristic female writer isn’t instinctually what comes to mind. The peculiar theme of this ad is completely misaligned with the McDonald’s brand.

The cultural icon that McDonald has become is known for its family friendly environment, affordability, and convenient food and service. None of these essential brand characteristics are mentioned at all in this commercial. Instead we watch poor Daniel face the luring gaze of writer woman.

The aim of this ad I feel was done in an attempt to change the way customers interact with McDonald’s. Transforming it into more of a coffee shop, rather then a family road trip pit stop. They aimed at creating the sentiment that McDonald’s can be a place where friends can gather, a place where you can come and do your homework; likening it with coffee shops where writers and students often go to do homework or work on projects. It is tremendously hard to transform the ideals that people hold about the cultural phenomena that is McDonald’s so making a brand story that doesn’t align with the societal norms that surround the McDonald’s persona can result in a disconnected brand message.

Although the ad itself wasn’t bad, and in fact it begins to make me wonder whether bringing my laptop to McDonald’s to snack on a junior chicken while writing an essay, might be a good idea; the message portrayed wasn’t the right one in order to target the sentiment that is so strongly identified with the McDonald’s brand.

Skype:

Skype is an exemplar case of how powerful exceptional brand storytelling can be. In the Skype “Stay Together” series, the company outlines how their users utilize their product to bring together their family and friends globally. Skype, the product itself, plays an integral part in the stories narrative. Comparing that with the McDonalds campaign, where the product played a limited role in the advertisement.

Skype brand storytelling represents everything that the brand values. It values real relationships, and maintaining connections between families, friends, and lovers. Denis, the main focus of this advertisement describes the important role that Skype has had in the development and communication of his global relationships. Denis shared statements like: “it allowed us to share laughter and feel closer”, and allowed him to maintain contact with his son and family members who still reside in Uganda so that he “wont feel like a stranger”.

Everyone loves a story and being part of one. When you tell a compelling story, people will want to be part of it. This is exactly what Skype has done. It has created a connection between their product and the positive emotions that are associated with making meaningful connections in the digital world. Creating purposeful brand storytelling can be difficult but when it is done correctly the rewards that are reaped are massive. It creates lasting impacts that are inimitable and changes how people view and interact with your brand moving forward.

What do you think the key to great brand storytelling is? Please let me know if the comment section!