Your Brand Deserves A Powerful Plot

Over the last few weeks we have delved into the elements of storytelling

  1. The four elements
  2. Your message
  3. The conflict
  4. Characters

Once your message, conflict and cast of characters are all in place, it is time to think about how your story should progress and to put the final element, the plot in play.

The flow of the story and its events are vital to the audience’s experience. Given the fact that we can only tell one thing at a time, and that a story exists only as a progression of events within a given time span, the sequence of events need careful consideration. It must have a precise structure to propel it forward and maintain audience interest. Generally speaking a traditional story can be segmented into three parts: beginning, middle and end. First, the scene is set. Next, the progression of change creates conflict and sets the parameters for the rest of the story. The conflict escalates but it is finally resolved, marking the end of the story.

Once the conflict has escalated to the point of no return, the hero usually has to make a decisive choice, which will influence the outcome. Now, it is the escalation of the conflict and the development of our hero that drive the story forward, building up to a climax e.g. where the hero, finally confronts the villain. In most Hollywood productions, the story will end positively, re-establishing harmony.

Having developed your core story – a clear formulation with a strong message, conflict and a clear cast of characters – we face the final and decisive test: The Acid Test. The Acid Test determines whether the brand’s core story is unique in relation to its competitors. Or whether the brands are basically the same, representing the same core story with only very slight variations in packaging. If your brand decides to communicate a core story that looks just like the one being told by your competitors, it should only be on the basis that you have a better and more credible way of communicating that particular story.

Because a brand’s core story is a strategic platform for communication, it must be presented in a way that can be translated to actual stories in many different contexts. It is difficult, therefore to speak of plot, as such. Nevertheless, it can be a good internal exercise to try and tell the core story as a fairy-tale, simply to see if it works in accordance with the principles of storytelling. By telling your core story in this way, your brand is placed in a sequence of events that can be easily understood.

Having discussed the four elements of storytelling, we are now ready to delve deeper into the relationship between branding and storytelling and shed light on how storytelling can be applied by brands. This will be the focus of the next few blogs.

CMO Perspective – Super Best Supermarkets

SuperBest is a chain of Danish supermarkets made up of independent grocers. This basically means that the individual grocer enjoys the privilege of being their own boss and owning their own stores, while under the protective umbrella of SuperBest. By working together in a chain structure, these grocers gain scale benefits in purchasing and have the opportunity to take part in national marketing under one joint name. The business advantages are one thing. But one of the SuperBest chain’s continuing challenges is to narrow down and visualize the value-base, tying together 170 individual and ultimately different grocers.

What do they actually have in common? And do they make a difference in relation to other, bigger supermarket chains that have everything the modern consumer wants? Supermarket giants are built on a tight, standardized concept. SuperBest grocers on the other hand, have the personal touch. They take personal pride in how their stores look, and what goods they sell. They chat with their customers on a daily basis and adapt their stores to local needs. It is precisely through this personal and localized experience, that SuperBest can make a difference. Good deals and quality products by contrast, are simply basic preconditions for running a modern supermarket.

In order to communicate this message to the 170 grocers at the annual strategy convention, the management team of the chain office decided to convey the message through a fairy-tale, with the purpose of creating a shared image of the grocery’s basic values. The story went like this:

“Once upon a time the grocer was a man we all knew. He was always there with a friendly car, a good deal, and some timely advice. He did not need a microscope to know good quality from bad, and he did everything in his power to create a store that his customer’s were comfortable in. The grocery was a gathering place for local people: the heart of the village.

But one day, everything changed. Large supermarkets moved like a dark shadow across the land of groceries. Economies of scale, effectiveness and unifications were the new supermarket’s version of the grocer. They all looked alike: one, large grey concrete box. Customers became little more than a barcode at the cash register. And the virtues of a true grocer turned to dust in the back room. The personal touch was in short supply.

But genuine grocers lived on. Determined to safeguard and uphold a warm, personal and quality shopping experience, they formed a united front against the large, grey supermarkets. Respecting the diversity of their customers they held their heads up high above the parole, “Liberty, equality and good grocering!” Liberty: because they were free grocers, each of whom put their own individual touch onto their stores. Equality: because they had a clear and shared belief in providing quality customer service and good deals. And good grocering because they hailed the true grocer virtues and knew that satisfied customers always come back.

The revolution had begun….”

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