Selling stories via your own narrative

I’ve had a set of incredibly interesting and enlightening conversation with a few folks in the industry over the last few years. One of the conversations I’ve had recently simply reconfirmed my hunch that the next major shift in our industry (creative, branding, advertising, digital -call it what you will”) is going to be a consolidation of viewpoints and skill-sets. There is going to be ONE Strategy department and digital is going to be the POV added to the mix just like any other. I’ve been doing more thinking on my end about what it means to be a digital brand? As clients now question the monthly retainer fees they are paying to see increases on their social media fan base, we’ve begun to see the com-modification of social media. Is there a true value associated with the fan base ? It is essential to become smart about metrics, but what value do you put on an R&D lab? What value do you put on the Customer Service departments or Public Affairs?

Brands are stories and a set of experiences that build on each other. However as companies and their product lines grow (whether its through creation, or M&A) articulating a consistent story becomes more challenging. In light of this, I’ve admired for long Penguin’s approach to building on its story and managing to create interesting and valuable brand experiences for its customers. Penguin is in the business of selling stories. And perhaps not all of Penguin’s story-telling forays were runway hit, but it has still managed to create a reputation and brand halo of experimenting and inventing new approaches to narrative.

I’m personally a huge fan of brand experiences that deliver on utility. Whether it is an iPhone application, a new product or an interesting advertising campaign (although those are rare to see) Whether the utility is knowledge, entertainment (play) or convenience, as long as the experience delivers on it, I think it is still enhancing and elevating its own story. And at that point, whether the utility is digital or not, it doesn’t matter. And I believe that’s why Penguin has been so successful to date with its branded experiences.

Just a thought.

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