Skip to main content

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.


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.

Popular posts from this blog

What makes a premium brand premium?

I was thinking the other day about the DNA of premium brands . One thing is certain -- it's a relative idea. For example, Hyatt is not a premium brand if you're used to staying at a W or a Ritz Carlton. But if your vacations to date have been holed up in a Holiday Inn, then by all means a stay in a Hyatt is a premium experience. Another thing is certain -- a brand is considered premium only when we believe it is worth the price. And that's where we can dig deeper. Why are we willing to pay more for a product when there are others that provide the same service or function at a lesser price? I have spent a good part of my marketing career developing strategies and ideas for a wide range of  premium brands, including American Express, Sony, Callaway Golf, Hilton, Jaguar, Land Rover – even the Toyota Prius.  Through these experiences I have come to believe that a premium brand is built upon specific tangible and intangible attributes that give it a sense wort

Super game. Dull ads

As a passionate Giants fan it is safe to say that I had a good time yesterday. But as an advertising professional I felt a bit underwhelmed by the caliber of the advertising . Many were entertaining. But few possessed that intangible Super Bowl-ness...big, pop-cultural, fun. Even fewer seemed to have anything relevant to say about the brand, such as the Planters "uni-brow" spot. I loved the Bridgestone "screaming animals" spot, but it would have been a much better spot for the Saab featured in the spot than the tires the car rode upon. As for Bud, good spots, but I've seen the dog and horse thing before. Tide's talking stain was funny, but did it have Super Bowl-ness? My fav? The Coke "balloon float" spot. It was classic Coke (for Coke Classic). Big. Entertaining. Unexpected twist. Utterly charming. And Charlie Brown finally won something. Coke is about smiles. And that spot was just that. The Audi spot that I wrote about last week liv

Marketing as a service.

What if we re-imagined marketing as a way to serve customers?  What if we designed it as a way to provide real-time value and utility to customers? Our SXSW panel at explored these issues and more.  Marketing as a service harnesses Big Data to provide more meaningful and helpful experiences for customers.  It is a principle born of the belief that the dynamics of customer loyalty have fundamentally changed.  Loyalty can no longer be solely defined by customers staying loyal to a brand.  Because the internet provides us with unlimited choice, the tables have turned – brands must now demonstrate their loyalty to customers by serving them.