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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.