Narrative Marketing: The New Branding

“Brand narratives trump brand promises, especially in higher-touch product and services categories that give customers frequent opportunities to discover the truths of their experiences.” (Ad Age article on Verizon vs. AT&T http://tinyurl.com/cwjysa7).

Especially in today’s economy, people are looking not only for value, but for clear benefits. The offer of ‘promises’ in today’s world, especially when they are not fully kept, is a recipe for disaster. For decades the branding industry has spoke about how a ‘brand is a promise’ (ref: Stuart Agres, Young & Rubicam). But with social media and real-time communications of today, shared experience (and fact-checking) is trumping advertising’s promises.

Branding for today requires companies to focus on the ‘Narrative’ of your brand. And while a company can facilitate that narrative, the reality of today is that companies can no longer control it.   A brand is a shared vessel, and effective management today includes the creation of ‘public tools’ that facilitate its appropriation by various audiences that assist to create awareness, and eventual use and adoption.

It may seem ironic to some that brand advertising will be at the forefront of cutting through all of the media dissembling that have so often included the ‘feel good’ promises we all grew up with and are familiar.   But the new economy, technology, and hyper-competitive forces are catapulting branding into a new age of Experiential Marketing and the Brand Narrative.

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