The most powerful brand stories aren’t the ones we tell our customers. They are the ones customers tell themselves.
People tell themselves stories every day to make it easier to understand a complex world.
The stories they tell have little to do with facts, and a lot to do with how they see the world.
It doesn’t matter if blind taste tests prove Pepsi tastes better than Coke. If they believe Coke is the best cola, they’ll stick to their story. And Coke will remain their favorite brand. No amount of storytelling is going to persuade them otherwise.
Some brands have figured this out and shifted their thinking from storytelling to storymaking.
Instead of telling a story solely designed to pull at heartstrings, they are creating experiences customers will share with others. In the process customers put their individual spin on telling the story. They become active players in making the brand story become real to them.
Coca-Cola did this with its “Share a Coke” campaign.
It began with the simple idea of printing people’s first names on bottles of Coke. Then customers began playing with the idea and making it their own.
“People were buying Cokes to show people they cared for that they missed them … from soldiers overseas in Afghanistan, to loved ones in the hospital, to long-lost friends,” said Jeremy Rudge, Creative Lead for the campaign. “We hadn’t really anticipated the packs being used in this emotionally powerful way. It was an example of how the public took the idea and shaped it themselves.”
The idea capitalized on the universal desire for self-expression and shared experience delivered in an emotional way. As a result, customers made it into a real story that was meaningful to them. And they shared it over and over again.
That’s a story that matters.