Monday, February 21, 2011

Six-word stories.

I've written extensively on my belief that great brands tell great stories.

Stories help us understand.  They convey meaning.  And in a fast moving world, meaning trumps information.  Too many brands get bogged down in lists of nouns and adjectives. Brands are verbs; like characters in a story, they do things.

The approach I've developed over time for creating persuasive brand narratives involves identifying your archetypal personality (the universal characters that form our collective unconscious), the hero's journey (the brand's true north, why it exists) and conflict (great literature hinges on a clearly defined antagonist; great brands define what they stand for by being equally clear about what they oppose).

Today I stumbled upon a new exercise to help further fine-tune this process:  six word stories - based on the famous challenge issued by Hemingway that resulted in his shortest story ever:  "For sale:  baby shoes, never used."

Some of the brands I've worked with might tell these stories:
  • Land Rover:  "Been there? Twice. Saved village chief."
  • Jaguar:  "Still flirt, no more flings. Monogamous."
  • Sony:  "Can't be done? Not to dreamers."
  • "Del Webb: "Retire? Prefer do-over. Shelved many dreams." 
Why is this important for brands? Allow me to sum it up in six words:  Information overload.  Little time.  Parity attributes.

1 comment:

Joe Cudzilo said...

I did this exercise with my 7th grade students last year. Some of my favorites:

"Hides behind the face of comedy." -From the student who used laughter to mask his learning disability

"Dark and silent. Kindhearted and caring." -From the goth girl who hardly every spoke, but made me some amazing origami swans

"Getting in trouble; paying the consequences." -From the boy who was suspended weekly

This assignment helped showcase each student's unique brand. Students succinctly said what set them apart from hundreds of their classmates.

Like you said, in order for a brand to stand out, it must tell a great story. Otherwise, it's just clutter - just another face in the crowd.

The six word story is a great start to creating a persuasive, memorable brand narrative.