01/02/2021No Comments

Brands play god

What makes a hero? And what makes a god?

Sometimes, Greek and Roman plays got stuck. Characters killed too many other characters, and relationships meandered along. Before long, the writer was up against the end without a way to tie it all together.

And the get out of jail card? An actor dressed up as a god and descended on some wires to solve everything.

You might have heard of it. It’s called deus ex machina – god from the machine.

And it’s infuriating.

That’s according to Aristotle, as well as just about anybody who’s ever watched or read a story unfold. There’s nothing more frustrating than weaving through a complicated plot, only to have it cop out with a big sweeping solution to all the characters’ problems.

But it doesn’t happen because writers are stupid. It happens because weaving a beautiful, well-wrought story that culminates in a tied-up ending is hard.

So, where else does someone or something sweep away all the problems in a story? In copy.

There’s so much talk of storytelling in marketing. Of the brand as the hero.

What makes a product or brand a hero? And what makes it an annoying, white-bearded actor dangling on wires?

When a hero solves something, it happens progressively.

In a screenplay, the trials and tribulations happen in act two – and act two is twice as long as the other acts. It doesn’t come out of the blue.

As Aristotle puts it, in the best stories “events do not seem to be mere accidents.” They “follow each other probably or inevitably.”

What does it mean? First, ‘storytelling’ is much easier said than done. Second, we seem to want more logic in our stories – brand or otherwise – than we get in life.

Speak to us about Storytelling today >

29/07/2020Comments are off for this post.

What’s your brand exit strategy?

There's a term I came across in the constant daily deluge of coronavirus news; exit strategy.

In pandemic context, this is the plan being developed and deployed to get us to the end of it. You’re already seeing this in action; from social distancing that ‘flattens the curve’ to the frantic search for a vaccine.

These critical activities have a single clear objective; get back to normal as soon as is safely possible. The question is, once we’re at the point we can return and pick up where we left off – what is this ‘new’ normal going to look like? Moreover, how can brands and marketers help shape it?

In the short to medium term at least, we’re living in world where “fear, uncertainty, doubt” are the steady background noise of reality. And not overplayed clichés in creative briefs. We’re already seeing brands adapting to the challenges that have been thrown at them. There have been some stunning examples of ingenuity, creativity and altruism on display - becoming some of the glue that holds us all together while we’re in isolation.

But these are the product of a time where there is no tried-and-trusted rule book to refer to. So, we’ve responded by pivoting. We’ve changed course; reprioritised the long run in favour of putting our energies into the short term. However, the pivot back many not be as simple as we might hope. Not only will we need to awaken and rebuild from a long hiatus, but the normal we yearn to return to might not be the one we actually see.

While brands and businesses should be focusing their attention on the present situation, they should also be giving some attention to what comes next. They need to be defining their own pandemic exit strategies to get back to the comfort of stability. Whatever that may be.

In the back of their minds, they should be asking and answering questions like;

  • How will we reengage the audience whose relationship with us has rapidly shifted and changed over this period?
  • How do we move back without losing what we’ve spent quarantine developing? 
  • How do we go back to generating business at a time that’s liable to be highly competitive and loud?
  • How do we retain the goodwill we’ve developed, or manage any negative publicity we’ve created?
  • How can we be ready to prepare for another massive shift in customer behaviour?

What the world is going to be like post-pandemic is almost as uncertain as the situation right now, but this time, we know that it’s coming. Therefore, we can be ready for it.

Let’s face it, we were all unprepared for coronavirus. That’s why we’re scrambling around trying to deal with it now. For brands, this time is an opportunity to carefully and considerately plan ahead an exit strategy that returns them to a normal. One that’s hopefully better than the one we left.

So, what is your brand exit strategy on getting back to normal after this all ends?

If you need a hand working it out, drop me a message.

Stay safe, see you on the other side.