The Tale of the Wondrous Miss Brilliant
Every story has the same basic premise. Somebody is having a hard time getting what they want. We love the journey, the struggle that comes with that narrative.
Let's imagine a film.
We'll call it: The Tale of the Wondrous Miss Brilliant. Miss Brilliant, our eponymous hero, has and always will be just that, quite simply brilliant. She was like that from the day she was born. Her parents loved her, they nurtured her. They pushed her, but not too much. They helped her nourish and grow. She did well at school, very well. She got on with everyone. She had boyfriends, they were nice, clever and respectful. She went to college and did well at sports, maths, science and was head of many societies, which she did well at. She got a first and everyone was happy. Even her tutor, who really liked her, but not in that way. And...you've guessed, she married, had kids, had a hell of a job, did charity and other good deeds and did everything just darn well. At reasonable age she died, content with her life. The end.
Nope I don't want to see it either.
Yet for brands or organisations that's the story we tell. We tell everyone how we're effortlessly brilliant. How we're the best, always were and always will be. The thing is, that story is impossible to believe. Viewers can only suspend judgement for so long, yes we'll allow a little bit of fantasy and sparkle, but we need a contrast. We have to break this habit of telling the impossible story.
There are however examples of brands and organisations down the years that have done it another way. Avis' We're No 2 was a brilliant and timeless example. Dollar Shave Club not only did a superb parody of the market in thier marketing, but also told their story with wonderful, tongue in cheek authenticity. I not only believed them, I loved what they said. I was in, hooked and loyal within 49 seconds.
The story goes that when Kellogg's wanted to understand why kids couldn't engage with Tony the Tiger, their brand hero, they went to the masters of character engagement, Disney. They looked at his character, spoke to lots of kids, and came up with one conclusion. He was too perfect. He gets everything right first time, no mistakes, no problem. That's not life and that's not real and kids just weren't buying into it.
The British Heart Foundation a few years ago created a brilliant viral campaign where you were invited to watch your own heart attack, Steven Birkoff playing a Reservoir Dogs character, didn't shy away from showing the brutal reality of what it's like. I believed every word he said.
If we only tell one story, the dazzling, zingy, the easy-come-easy-go one, then we can't expect people to become believers. Let's show the dark and the light, the contrasts, the high and low. After all it's what life is all about.
Martin | firstname.lastname@example.org