Getting your brand story right… finally!

A great brand story is pure voodoo. It ‘sticks’ in the listener’s mind better than any brand features or benefits. In fact, this makes the brand story the perfect vehicle for conveying, and embedding those features and benefits. Not to mention building up an affiliation between the storyteller and the audience.

However, crafting a memorable story is damn hard. What’s worse, there are no easy step-by-step processes or manuals that enable you to generate a decent brand story. Sure, there’s the Hero’s Journey, but adapting it to your brand leaves most would-be-storytellers scratching their heads.

A powerful brand story is a wonderful way to convey your features and benefits... and ensure they stick in the listener's mind. Click To Tweet

Creating a brand story that bewitches

Park Howell is a brand strategist who specializes in dissecting, analyzing, and crafting great brand stories. His podcast, The Business of Story, is one of the top business podcasts in North America. And he’s just written a killer book called Brand Bewitchery, which tweaks the classic  Hero’s Journey to fit the business paradigm. It works!

I’ve known Park for years. We both share a passion for ‘green’ marketing (making sustainability sexy, as it were). As early attendees of the Sustainable Brands conferences, we naturally gravitated towards one another. The friendship lasted.

In this podcast, Park and I dig into his book Brand Bewitchery, and why it works for business. We also cover a wide swath of topics – hey, we’ve known each other for years, and this was a wonderful time to catch up on tall tales and adventures.


The Brand Story Interview Highlights

  • 2:00 – The trouble with ‘storytelling’.
  • 2:35 – What led Park to brand storytelling.
  • 4:40 – Why stories are uniquely human.
  • 5:20 – The problem with rational thinking.
  • 6:02 – Nobody buys products based on data.
  • 7:27 – Learnings from Park’s tenure as a green marketing professor.
  • 12:11 – Park’s son is cool. He’s making a real time production of Dungeons and Dragons in Hollywood.
  • 12:50 – Park gets an introduction to the Hero’s Journey via his son’s film school education.
  • 13:50 – Story as a software program that organizes our thinking.
  • 14:30 – Amazing growth experiment introducing clients to storytelling.
  • 15:00 – Ten critical questions in Brand Bewitchery.
  • 16:00 – Taking the first client through the storytelling process.
  • 17:15 – How storytelling creates a narrative that can eliminate conventional ad messages.
  • 18:00 – How storytelling conveys a truth that builds trust.
  • 18:30 – How storytelling brought in the right team, as well as the right customers.
  • 20:40 – The steps of Brand Bewitchery.
    • 21:30 – The backstory.
    • 21:51 – The hero.
    • 21:58 – The stakes / wishes / wants.
    • 25:15 – Disruption in the marketplace.
    • 26:40 – The villains.
    • 27:11 – Crevasses / performance gaps.
    • 27:54 – The mentor.
    • 28:13 – The gift you bring to the world.
    • 28:25 – Character archetypes / showing up as a human.
    • 29:30 – The journey.
  • 30:00 – Brand awareness / brand adoption / brand appreciation.
  • 31:20 – The brand story of AirBnB.
  • 33:38 – Nike, Just Do It, and joining you on your own hero’s adventure.
  • 34:13 – Your audience reading themselves into the story.
  • 34:45 – Nine words in three categories
    • 34:54 – Three words that define the organization.
    • 35:05 – Three words that define the offering
    • 35:13 – Three words that define the outcome.
  • 35:40 – Putting the words into service to create more stories.
  • 37:40 – Brands that use stories have more fun, and richer marketing material.
  • 38:45 – Merchandising the story – the Toy Story example.
  • 39:20 – The brand story course.
  • 40:44 – ABT, And / But / Therefore – How Park discovered the original story structure.
  • 42:30 – Using ABT in the best brand story ever.
  • 43:30 – Even if people know story structure, they still love it.
  • 43:50 – Moving from being an intuitive storyteller to an intentional storyteller.

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