People love stories. It’s not something we learn or develop as sophisticated consumers; human beings are hardwired to respond to stories that inspire us, challenge us, entertain us, empower us and comfort us. Stories that engage us matter to us.
Human beings don’t respond nearly as well to facts or statements. We think we do—we want to believe we are logical beings capable of making rational, practical choices—but we aren’t motivated by a fact until we consider it within the bigger context of a story.
We need to know how we feel about the facts before we decide if a fact is important.
A story is not a single message, nor is it just a series of facts. The story defines the relationship people have with the facts. A story provides the context for the facts, and the story we believe is how we know how we feel about the facts. Those feelings anchor the relationship, and the relationship matters.
People won’t connect with one message, but they will understand one story.
Since the early days of brand strategy, common wisdom emphasizes “one message”—one single message that occupies the mind of the consumer. This basic philosophy—correct, but too simplistic—undermines the complexity of the relationship people will have with the brand. If you focus only on one message, you risk bombarding your stakeholders without engaging them. It’s not about you—it’s about how they feel when you’re part of their experience.
Your brand is deeper than one single message. Your brand is one story—one complex, evolving idea shared through simple narratives which capture, celebrate and reward the human condition. Your brand is the story that puts facts into context.
Facts can be copied; stories are unique. Facts can only be absolute; stories are fluid. Facts change; stories evolve. We learn facts; we love stories.
A great brand strategy is built around one shared story. It invites people to share in the greater vision by experiencing the story, often in a variety of different ways, and continues to reward everyone with new adventures, new ideas, and new opportunities.
Your brand is one story—one awesome story—with many engaging chapters.