StoryBranding: Creating Stand-Out Brands Through the Power of Story

By Jim Signorelli, Special for US Daily Review.

Stories provide us with one of the most persuasive tools in our communications arsenal. They teach us, motivate us, and even define us. Is there a way for brands to tap into the power of story to create brand identities that stand out against the backdrop of their competitors?

Zappos is an excellent example of StoryBranding at work.

The art and science of branding has changed drastically since the advent of TV. Today, advertising is far more ubiquitous and much of it is loud, boastful and intrusive. It’s no wonder we’ve welcomed technology like DVRs, satellite radio, and mp3 players to help us avoid advertising messages. On the other hand, we will do little to avoid stories. Instead of dodging stories, we invite what they have to tell us. In fact, we often seek opportunities to hear, read, or see them. The process of “StoryBranding” shows how advertisers can borrow from the way stories are structured to accomplish similar effects and is detailed in the soon-to-be-released title StoryBranding: Creating Stand-Out Brands Through the Power of Story.

Written by advertising industry thought leader Jim Signorelli, StoryBranding is about the power and logic of story structure applied to branding. With the help of humorous personal anecdotes and illustrations not typically found in academic approaches to the subject of branding, Signorelli shows how marketers viewing their brands as stories can build welcomed and lasting relationships with prospects; relationships that are grounded in shared human values.

“Stories, like brands, clothe truths,” says Signorelli. “Preferring a particular brand over an alternative is a favorable vote for some associated truth that the selected brand supports.  StoryBranding is about drawing from the age-old logic of story structure to help marketers and advertisers better clothe their brands with these important truths, and without hitting the consumer over the head to get their points across.”

Broken into three parts, Signorelli first describes the power of stories, the logic of story structure, and, through examples, shows how authentic brand stories  are found, not faked or manufactured merely to capitalize on the next big sales opportunity. In the second part, he guides brand planners through the necessary steps to developing a compelling brand story. Signorelli calls this process the “Six C’s,” a planning process that gives a heart beat to traditional fact-based creative briefs while inspiring message ideas that create more audience resonance and less audience resistance. Finally, in part three, he provides the tools for applying and testing insights gleaned from the StoryBranding process.

Topics found throughout StoryBranding include:

  • The role of story and story structure as a brand planning tool
  • StoryBranding as a marketing philosophy, not just a marketing process
  • The difference between a brand story’s plot and theme
  • Small-t truth vs. big-T truth: the role of each in advertising
  • The six C’s of the StoryBranding process, including examples of how to apply them
  • The limitations of traditional creative briefs
  • How the StoryBranding model can enhance a brand’s meaning and authenticity
  • The common obstacles that stand in the way of the brand/prospect relationship

StoryBranding is very different from the typical brand planning processes that help marketers promote a brand’s unique functional differences,” comments Signorelli.” StoryBranding shows how to excavate a brand’s unique values. In so doing, it will show how brand marketers can replace message resistance with message resonance.”

Jim Signorelli is the founder and CEO of esw StoryLab, a Chicago-based marketing firm. Signorelli’s 30+ year career in advertising began as a “copy/contact” with Marsteller and soon expanded to account management with major agencies like N.W. Ayer, Frankel & Co. and W.B. Doner. Over the years, he has worked with a number of national consumer and business brands including Citibank, Kraft Foods, Burger King, Toshiba, Emerson Electric, and The American Marketing Association. Signorelli’s agency has been cited as one of the fastest growing independent companies in the U.S. by Inc. Magazine for three years running and, in 2010, he was the recipient of the “Smart Leader” award given by Smart Business Magazine and U.S. Bank. He resides in Evanston, IL with his wife.

All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.

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