Brand Stories

Crises and crossroads: Brand stories that stick

Andrew Carnegie was born into poverty. In 2019, the charitable trust bearing his name awarded more than $150 million in grants.

Jean Nidetch was a housewife with a sweet tooth. She founded Weight Watchers (now WW), which made her a millionaire and a celebrity.

Apple, Amazon, and Google were launched in their founders’ garages. Walt Disney Productions was born in 1929, on the cusp of the Great Depression. HP originated during the Depression. Microsoft got its start during the 1970s oil crisis. WhatsApp and Groupon? The global financial crisis of 2007-09.

See a pattern here? Adversity breeds opportunity. It’s been true throughout history, and it’s true today, during a global pandemic. What better way to inspire your team, your peers, and your customers by weaving this messaging into your brand story?

Be honest with yourself – and your audiences

It’s tempting to ignore or gloss over bumps in the road. But these stumbling blocks are an important part of brand stories. They appeal to your audience’s emotions in a way that’s genuine. For example, people remember where they were during the global financial crisis and will know that they have something in common with you.

Stumbling blocks also provide the opportunity to highlight your unique response to a crisis, offering a framework for a brand story that reflects your individuality and strength.

“Amidst major upheaval, your business and brand can potentially survive and even thrive with unrelenting focus,” expert Lorraine Carter writes in “Psychology of Branding in Adversity.” “In fact . . . you can emerge out of the current adversity stronger than you went into it.”

However, the possibility of a crisis never goes away. Brands face tests at every turn. Small startups and well-established companies alike face internal and external challenges and difficult decisions. How companies respond is a testament to their character. Don’t ignore the impact these moments of truth can have on your brand story.

Person perched on hillside at start of journey with winding road stretching out before her.

Bear witness to your own transformation

Think about your favorite movie. Does Titanic have the same draw if the ill-fated ship makes it across the Atlantic safely? What if Andy Dufresne is released from prison instead of escaping in Shawshank Redemption? Or Jenny never leaves Forrest Gump’s side?

Your brand stories can be just as compelling as a Hollywood blockbuster. The formula for great stories has roots in ancient oral traditions. Everything you read or watch today uses components of this formula to effectively convey a point, create an emotional connection, and stick in your memory.

Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey illustration lays out the elements of classical narratives
Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey is a basic structure for storytelling that identifies the stumbling blocks that stand between the protagonist (that’s you!) and success and/or happiness. If you doubt its veracity, consider this: Star Wars wouldn’t exist without it.

Using storytelling to discover and express your brand identity is not a rote exercise. It’s an opportunity to look in the mirror and really see who you are, where you’ve been, and how you got here. It enables you to amplify your mission, vision, values, and brand proposition in a way that’s authentic and distinctive.

Discover your unique brand story – and how you can use it to further your business goals – by working with Consummate Prose to bring it to life. Contact us today to get started.


2 replies on “Crises and crossroads: Brand stories that stick”

[…] Honesty and empathy are words that come up often when discussing the qualities of effective leadership today. They are some of the most important ingredients for an authentic brand. However, don’t embrace them just for their own sake. You’re sharing your perspective – your truth – with people. That vulnerability will help build goodwill when tough decisions are on the horizon. It will also encourage people to keep it real with their own teams. […]

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