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A brand’s tale:

Posted by Symon Dickinson - Creative Director at PHMG on

Once upon a time, a brand told a story – a story which engrossed their audience to create a real consumer connection. If you’re sitting comfortably, we’ll begin with our look at the most memorable marketing tales of 2017.

Ever since that first family of cavemen sat around a campfire and told terrifying tales of mighty mammoths and scary sabretooths, humans have been wired to react to stories. They make us think, they make us feel, and they make connections in our minds – which is exactly what a brand wants to achieve. By making a consumer laugh, smile or even cry, they create a memory and forge a connection, which encourages brand recall and loyalty. This technique particularly resonates with a modern audience. Whereas once upon a time brands may have wanted to appear superior, nowadays they strive to be on a level with their buyers. As Senior Director of Global Brand Communication at Adidas Football, Florian Alt states, “we really want to be your partner, your friend, your buddy in crime, and not your authority or parent.” Effective storytelling works to put them on this same level, making it even more valuable in the modern marketplace.

Many brands told stories that stood out last year, but one campaign that really made an impact was Nationwide’s bold reinvention, ‘Voices’. Rather than showcase a company origin-story, the world’s largest building society opted for something that would hit a little closer to home: our stories. Created by VCCP, the series of shorts featured 42 poets reciting personal spoken-word verses exploring topics important to us as people – friendship, home, parenting etc. Performance poetry is notoriously polarising, so it was a brave decision to put it at the core of a campaign.  However, it was hugely effective for the powerful way it tied back to the brand. Nationwide is a building society owned by its members, and these ads were all about the people. The ad agency also developed powerful tieback lines to maintain relevancy, such as the simple yet effective ‘we value friendship and reward loyalty’ which appeared at the end of the ‘Pals’ feature. This promoted the £100 offer for introducing a new member, adding a touching note to a cash-focused scheme.

Elevators are something we all take for granted. Yet this year, pioneering manufacturer Otis Elevator Company lifted themselves to new heights with an inspired brand campaign. Theirs’ is a tricky product to sell — a metal box that ascends and descends at the click of a button is hardly glamourous. But with the help of leading creative agency Iris, they broke through their glass ceiling with storytelling. The thousands of people travelling up and down in Otis elevators every day all have a story, and they all shares an innate desire to succeed. From this idea, Otis’  ‘Made to Move You’ video was born, based on the metaphor of moving up in life. The success of this feature proves that B2B customers are equally receptive to stories as B2C, illustrating the universal nature of a powerful narrative.

Now we’ve reached the end of our journey through the two great fables of 2017, the moral of this story, is that storytelling sells. Whether it’s a financial institution or a manufacturer of elevators, every brand can benefit from telling tales to their customers.




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