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Spreading it on THICK

There are a myriad of ways of capturing a brand.

Models of every shape, size and number of boxes.

The trusty old positioning statement.

Purpose, promise and personality.

What you stand for/how you stand out.

And many others along the highways and byways of the Brandlands.

Then there’s the story. "Once upon a time there was a brave little brand that wanted to grow."

Some agencies swear by this. They even enshrine it in their company name.

You can see the appeal. Stories have heroes, quests, challenges, enemies, climaxes, hidden meanings, changes for the better.

Above all, they have authenticity. The true story behind the brand just waiting to be discovered by the curious planner.

There’s always the question of whose story it should be.

Sometimes it’s the founder’s. One man or woman against the world, with an obstacle to overcome, their own internal and external struggles, a chance event, the spark of an idea, someone to guide them along the way and success that once seemed an impossible dream.

But another view is that the protagonist should be the customer, with their motivations to the fore.

It can be harder to see that as a story. "Let me tell you the tale of how I decided which brand to buy today. Oh look, there it is."

But sometimes it can really work. Here’s my own personal favourite example:

“I was working for a dairy client advertising butters and spreads. We had tried several times, using different research techniques, to understand why some people preferred one brand over the others. And it didn't matter who you asked, they all said they chose their brand because it tasted the best. Which was neither that useful, and I wasn't sure was true knowing what we learnt from taste trials. Then we worked with Richard and his team, and his research uncovered much deeper insights than any research I'd seen up until then. He showed the emotional connections different brands were making, so we could see what was motivating people's choices. I could understand the unconscious needs different brands answered and how. What I now call implicit goals. This completely unlocked the category for the first time. We could now see the motivations behind all the brand choices and it gave a clear plan for the brands we worked on. This thinking was so powerful and illuminating I have used it ever since, whichever brand I work on. Understanding those deeper, unconscious motivations is key to understanding and influencing behaviour.”

Thank you, Simon White, now CSO of FCB West but then Head of Planning at Grey London working on the Dairy Crest account.

Excellent work.


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