Great brands tell great stories. Everyone has heard the story of how FedEx founder Fred Smith presented the basic concept of overnight delivery in a Yale term paper. He received a “C”. The professor said that he had failed to describe a plan that was feasible. You’ve probably heard well-known stories of extraordinary service by Nordstrom department store employees. The stories have become a staple of business management literature.
Rolf Jenson, in the book, The Dream Society, tells us that in Denmark, eggs from free-range hens have conquered over 50 percent of the market. Consumers don’t want hens to live their lives in small, confining cages. They are willing to pay 15 percent to 20 percent more for the story about animal ethics. According to Jenson, “this is classic Dream Society logic. Both kinds of eggs are similar in quality, but consumers prefer eggs with the better story.”
When we consult with clients regarding brand strategy, one of our most important tools is the simple one-on-one interview with management, marketing and sales executives. We dig for stories. Why was the company founded? Who are your heroes and muses? What images are hanging in the workstations? Such stories provide real insights into company culture and brand differentiation.
Few business thinkers have had more prominence in the last 25 years than Tom Peters. He said, “Great branding is a great story. The Coca-Cola saga. The UPS saga. The IBM saga. Can you as a brand leader (of a 4-person operation or 4,000 person corporation) convey your story succinctly? Can you convey it in a powerful way? Is it believable? Exciting? Mind altering? To employees? To vendors? To customers? To the media?”