Brand storytelling: a bitter pill to swallow?

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I have been thinking about brand storytelling after watching Adam Curtis’ Bitter Lake over the weekend which is ostensibly trying to tell the story of Afghanistan from then end of the second world war to today. But it is also a parable on how the simplicity of storytelling used by the political classes to get the populace on side in the west has been ultimately counterproductive. This counterproductive nature of it, made me think about brand storytelling, that is often simple to aid both delivery and effectiveness.

I have worked for businesses since the mid-noughties that put brand storytelling at the centre of offerings – often using simple mono-myths as models. In addition, my colleagues at one agency took this a stage further and sold their services as building on the ‘best practice’ of winning political campaigns – if you like Ogilvy on Advertising but written by Tony Blair, Bill Clinton and George W Bush.

The truth is that our relationships with brand is often more complex and shifting than we has marketers let on. Brands have symbolic and status power which changes over time. The question that Bitter Lake seeded in my mind, is brand storytelling actually going to breed a future set of consumers with little to know brand engagement? Where brand values become a mill stone rather than a touch stone? It’s too early to tell and I don’t know the answers if it did happen, though my gut says going to an approach of radical honesty. More branding related content here.

More information
Bitter Lake | Wikipedia