3 Brands That Haven’t Mastered Storytelling

There you are, huddled around a flickering campfire with your friends, listening to a scary story. Todd, the storyteller, leans in as if to tell a secret and whispers to build tension. Everyone watches his face with anticipation, its features dark and hollow from the flashlight being held below. After a few seconds of silence that feel like forever, he finally says, “And then…and then”. Todd’s expression goes from scary and menacing to confused.Camping Trip

“And then what!?” you say.
“I don’t know. I forgot how it ends,” he replies.
Everyone groans and rolls their eyes.

Are you a Todd? Are you that person that can’t tell a story? The one that can’t deliver a punchline if it punched you in the face? Even if you are, don’t worry, there’s still hope. There are plenty of people out there who haven’t mastered the art of storytelling. To spare some of my friends the humiliation, I’ll pick on some brands that are seriously lacking in this category.

Just as we all have stories to tell, so do brands. And it is through their stories that we are able to connect and relate, to break the barrier between everyday people and an abstract business entity. When a Brand tells their story and does it well, something special happens. A fan base is created. A relationship of trust and loyalty is built between the product and the consumer.

In today’s world, to tell your brand story most effectively, you must find a way to share it visually. Why? Because 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000X faster in the brain than text. (Sources: 3M Corporation and Zabisco). Visual is an emotional experience and emotions affect our decision making. While there are plenty of big names out there doing this extremely well, Coca-Cola, Old Spice, and others to name a few, there are just as many or more that are missing the boat. Here are a few that stood out:

Rolex – Think of all the cool images that pop into your head the second you hear the word. Rolex has done a great job of establishing their brand and audience in past campaigns. But if you were to take a gander at some of their social media accounts, you will agree that opportunities are being missed. Take a look at the image on the right. Not bad. It’s a nice watch. Something that beautiful is bound to catch the eye, right? Wrong! Not when it’s lost in a sea of other product-only images. Rolex has fallen victim to something we like to call “product-pushing”. Nearly every post they throw out is merely an image of a watch and a boring paragraph telling us every intricate detail of its making. Instead of boring their fans by talking at them, they should be sharing lifestyle images to paint a picture of their customer and inspire conversation. Share stories of your humble beginnings with catchy vintage photos. Upload videos to your YouTube channel of what it takes to build such a priceless work of machinery. The possibilities are endless, as are these boring posts unfortunately. It’s time to get with the program Rolex.rolex

Mattel – Who hasn’t heard of the brand Mattel? Half the toys in your kid’s closet probably have this name plastered all over them. Mattel has it easy. It shouldn’t be hard to convey your unique tale when all of your products are so famous and fun. Hold engaging contests that inspire fans to share their favorite memories of your historic toys. Have a Retro Toy Tuesday where you show a photo of a Barbie from yesteryear. Tell us, in a fun visual way, what makes your toys so special. It’s not about plastic molds and fake hair, it’s about memories and being swept away by your imagination. Or you can just post announcements that have nothing but a link as a redeeming quality. Come on Mattel, Mattelling me that’s the best you can do?mattel

Netflix – Now, before you all come at me with pitchforks, know that I love Netflix. I was with them when their instant streaming service had about as many options as an In n Out burger menu. But with a product that so many people adore, how could you not find a story that connects? You share the magic of movies with millions of people. I’ll be honest, I was a little split on whether or not to include Netflix in my list and that’s because a couple of their social accounts seem to be doing a decent job. For example, their Instagram has some really cool images that remind you of the great movies the service has to offer. They even have some images and videos from their red carpet events. Click on over to their Facebook page and you’ll find something different (https://www.facebook.com/netflix?fref=ts ). Poster upon poster litters the page like a mile long cinema wall. I have nothing against movie posters. They’re attractive, communicate a lot, and are relevant to movie watchers. But if every post is nothing but a poster and the line “Ice Age 10 is now on Netflix!” Where’s the uniqueness in that? Where’s the engagement? Have movie quote competitions. Show a frame from film and have people guess where it’s from. Introduce us to the behind the scenes at the mysterious Netflix headquarters. Make little 6 second movie parodies of your own on a Vine account. The list goes on and on. Someone should just call up Netflix and let them know that they’re dropping the ball. You know what, I’m going to right now. Beep boop beep beep boop…..ring…riiiiiiing….
Netflix Exec: “Hello, thank you for calling Netflix. How can I-”
Me: “Your Facebook page sucks!”
They’ll thank me for it later.

No matter how big or small your company is it has a story. Find out what it is and tell it in a captivating way that is both visual and engaging. Brush away the dirt and discover what your fossil of an idea is. Look at the good and the bad examples around you. You can learn to be a better storyteller. If you don’t feel like you have what it takes, if you are satisfied being a Todd, then get someone on your team that can do it for you.


Posted on April 4, 2014 in Ideas

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