Storyteller Secrets, Strategic Story

Strategic Storytelling-Branding 1


Strategic Stories can be transmitted through a variety of presentation formats.  Today, we will look at Story Branding.  You find this format mostly on Websites to Social Media.  Digital Storytelling should be kept at the 1 – 3-minute mark, beyond three minutes takes more creativity to keep the viewer to the end.

The two stories that follow is a second level of Strategic Storytelling we call, “ Storytelling Branding.”

Patek Philippe’s one minute commercial creates both the brand and image by using visual metaphors.  The black and white photography creates an air of sophistication and drama.  The video highlights five major cities that represent the five major UTC Time Zones.   Each time zone is equal to 10-seconds of video time.  In each of the five segments an adult is wearing a Patek Philippe watch, and the adult is always paired with a son or daughter image.   The last ten seconds explains the whole message: “You never actually own a Patek Philippe, you merely look after it for the next generation.”  This is more than just a watch to tell time, it is an investment in technology and fine art.  The music is soft, classical, and subtle.   It ends with, “Begin your own tradition.”  The Brand is set like a museum piece of fine art and the whole video plays into this concept.



The second commercial says absolutely nothing about the product, “Red Bull Stratos.”  The video was edited down to 1:30 minutes.   It is the historical documented highest free-fall jump ever done—24 miles in altitude.  The video went viral and has been seen more than 41,500,000 million times. The only brand icon visible was on top of the parachute.  Brilliant!  Red Bull, in the past has spent over $75 million per year advertising and marketing its product in the U.S.  However, the viral video, “Red Bull Stratos,” rose sales 17% to $1.6 billion dollars in the United States. Globally the company sold 5.2 billion cans, which was a 13% increase.  Red Bull’s slogan: ‘Red Bull gives you wings’.


Storytelling Branding has a beginning, middle, and end.  It differs from Strategic Storytelling, which is more of a persuasive argument.  The purpose of branding is to identify your product-service customer’s values.  If done correctly, the story will do most of the work.  Story Branding must build trust, confidence, and inspire emotion.  Without the emotional element, the story will end when the video ends.  Shut the sound off and see the video again, and then think about what Alfred Hitchcock once told his apprentice.  He said, “Even if they shut off the sound to my movies, the images will still deliver the message and emotions.”  This is good advice when developing your video storyboard.

Images must convey meaning through their actions and expected emotional response.  Background music should never over power, but act more as a supporting actor.  The story must lead the viewer to a conclusion on your Brand’s strength: Trust, Confidence, Reliability, or Leadership.  Which of these two videos would you use as your branding template?


Strategic Story

What is Strategic Storytelling-Part 3

“The human species thinks in metaphors and learns through stories.”

We think in Metaphors.  A metaphor is a form of figurative language which applies non-literal descriptions in order to draw comparisons between two otherwise unrelated things.  Neuroscience brain research has demonstrated that we think in pictures not in words.   Words are abstract like numbers.  Metaphors, on the other hand, create a vivid image that people immediately connect to emotionally.

SpicesA picture of spices with its wide range a vivid colors, textures, and tastes can add flavor to your brand, product or service.  Spices add  piquancy, and sometimes a little heat to a meal.  If you were given the above picture to describe your product or service how would you connect it?

KnightImages play instantly into the imagination of your viewer.  For example, in the above image, do you see just chess pieces, or do you see your company facing your competition and pausing to develop and craft your strategic story, which indicates your next strategic move.

RhinoAsk yourself what would happen if another animal like a cheetah, elephant or hippopotamus were used instead of the Rhino.  What does the Rhino stand for in this image?  What would the other three animals represent?  How would that change the metaphor for the car’s construction, comfort, strength, and durability?


Metaphors help in giving your audience a different perspective on the benefits you offer.  Sometimes people only see the same product\service that can be bought through different companies.  For example, if you are a real estate agent.  You help people buy and sell houses.  But there are hundreds of agents doing the same thing (center object).  What separates you from the others is your story.  How does “The Thinker,” from Rodin differ from the statue of Venus De Milo?  The metaphor of the image is connected emotionally to your product or service.

ShoesTwo shoes one dressy the other relax.  They look about the same size so they represent one person’s life style.

What does the shoe on the left represent as oppose to the shoe on the right?  Did you notice that the dress shoe is on the left side and could represent the left brain:  Logical, abstract, linear thinking, business, facts, mathematics, and thinking in words?  On the other hand, the right side represents the right side of the brain:  Imagination, intuition, rhythm, day dreaming, holistic thinking, the Arts, and fun.  As you can see, there are many creative ways to interpret the images to your needs.

In the end, it is about bringing more visibility to your site or business and thereby increasing your leads for future sales.  It is also understanding how to add emotions through the use of metaphors.  Your task is now to review your sites and decide if the theme is being played throughout your marketing campaign.  Go back to the question, “Why?” your product or service is important, then ask, “Does this metaphor represent me, or who I want to be, or who people think I am?”



Strategic Story

What is Strategic Storytelling-Part 2

Yesterday, I defined what a Strategic Story was.  Today, we will take the first step in learning how to design and craft the core of that story.  The core is the persuasive element of a Strategic Story.  It answers the questions: where have we come from?; Why we are changing?;  And where we are going?  It tells our listeners how our change(s) will benefit them.

In order to do this, we must start with a simple question—Why?  A Strategic Story is developed from change, something happening, or something that will happen if change is not implemented now!  Our global economy is in constant stages of change.  We look for the best patterns to make decisions on what actions need to be taken, in order to stay afloat and to stay competitive in the ocean of economic chaos.

websiteaboutpicDannijo, a jewelry brand, was founded by sisters Danielle and Jodie Snyder in 2008.  They have successfully amassed over 146,000 Instagram followers including a host of celebrities with their fan based.  When asked what changed, they said their company needed to “create narratives that are so compelling to consumers, they want to build your product into their lives.”  This is a great example on how a Strategic Story works to build relationships.

9e06605987524d6a811e286ecf793140Another company, Burt’s Bees, which sells a hugh range of natural body-care products has the philosophy, “What you put on your body should be made from the best nature has to offer.”  Their website shoulders several stories:  It’s HISTORY is told through a timeline with pictures.  The PURPOSE focuses on its guiding principles (its triple bottom line: people, profit, planet).  From product to packaging their philosophy tells its Strategic Story of why they do it, what they do, and how they do it.

New-Coke-Dental-Consulting-3In 1984, Coca Cola had a new strategy to grab the Pepsi drinkers; however, where its leadership failed was in not developing a Strategic Story.  The New Coke, was developed in total secret.  Communiques between departments were even coded.  Its secrecy was equal the the WWII Manhattan Project.  Employees worked on a new product line and didn’t know it.  Marketing and advertising departments thought they were working on a new packaging.  Even the bottlers weren’t informed.

newcoke-adage-042210bigOn April 23, 1985, the company broke the news that they had a new formula for coke.  The public response was immediate and negative.  The Coke loyalist immediately attacked the action.  If social media had been around then it would have been worst.  By May, the company was getting over 5,000 negative calls per day to bring back the original formula; by April the number reached 8,000.  By July 1985, leadership realized they had fired on their competition but almost sunk themselves.

Out of the three stories I mentioned, Coca Cola should be the one you really study.  Their mistakes are your lessons and profits.  Think of the question “Why?” for your product or service change.  Determine the customer benefits because of those changes.  Make it visual and emotional.  How to do this will be discussed in tomorrows blog.

Strategic Story

The Power of Strategic Stories

I’m often asked, “Peter, what exactly is a Strategic Story?”

A Strategic Story is designed and crafted to engage and motivate the listener towards completing a specific action or objective.   A good example of this is the Gettysburg Address.  A speech delivered on November 19, 1863 to honor the dead at the battle of Gettysburg.


Everyone has heard of the Gettysburg address and most know the first line by heart.  Abraham Lincoln was a great storyteller, and the Gettysburg address is a strategic story that has engaged and motivated listeners for decades towards a specific action and goal—the preservation of this nation.

It was the Constitution of the United States that was at the heart of the Civil War, which was being challenged by Southern States.   But, Lincoln doesn’t go back to the signing of the Constitution, on September 17, 1787, instead he returns to the signing of the Declaration of Independence—1776.  Why?


Because one month before this speech Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which not only ended all slavery in the South, but echoed the Declaration of Independence’s first line, “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.”  Lincoln paraphrased this with, “…our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

Interesting enough, in all of Lincoln’s past speeches, he never mentions the word nation.  In fact, he concentrated on the word union over twenty times–never nation; However, by 1863, he begins to realize the union is not sustainable without a nation.  His second paragraph uses Nation in the strongest sense, Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.”

It was Edward Everett, who was the first speaker that day, he spoke 13,000 words for two-hours, yet no one remembered what he said.   Everett concentrated his speech on those soldiers who had given their lives both at Gettysburg and back during the Revolutionary War.  While Everett, focused on topping Shakespeare’s Marc Anthony speech for the dead, Lincoln chose to talk about those still alive and their future.

In Lincoln’s third and final paragraph he states clearly that there is still unfinished work to complete (an objective/goal) and we owe it to those who already, “Gave the last full measure of devotion…”  He then ends with a solemn oath, “that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

The Gettysburg address is a Strategic Story.  It begins like a story, “Four score and seven years ago,” same as, “A long time ago.”  It’s a persuasive argument told in a story format.  A Strategic Story is a skill that can be learned.  It’s also a powerful marketing tool that steps up visibility and increases leads.

Stories inside a Story

#Enough–The Story Continues

enough-national-school-walkout-protests-lawmakers-inaction-on-gun-violenceI had another article I was going to post today, but at noon I left my home office and drove to our neighborhood Starbucks for my birthday freebie.  While waiting for my drink to be made I stood by the newspaper stand.  The pictures of students protesting on the front page of the WSJ  caught my attention.  I bought the newspaper, grabbed my drink, and returned home.

I wrote a piece that addressed the Florida massacre back in February (“To Change Reality-Change the Story P3”).  I knew then this story was just unfolding and the story would gain momentum, and it has.   As of today,  the story is far from dying out, it was front page news on the Wall Street Journal, “Students Protest Gun Violence.”

Since the Douglas High School massacre, suggestions on how to deal with gun violence in schools has been discussed from arming teachers to passing a Stop School Violence Act.  I’m an educator, and have worked for 25 years in high schools.  As far as arming teachers, let’s just say, there are some teachers I wouldn’t want to see armed.  No, arming teachers is moving in the wrong direction.  There have been mass killings in churches, what would you say to a pastor or deacon holstering a gun?

980xOn the other hand, increasing the age, or making it harder to purchase a gun, is not the answer either. Cigarette Laws were passed to increase the age from 16 to 18, and now many state laws have 21 as the legal age to purchase a pack of cigarettes.  Under age children still are able to get a hold of a pack of smokes.

Increasing the price of guns won’t help.  When I was a kid, cigarettes cost .25 cents a pack.  Today a pack of cigarettes varies with Los Angeles and New York state pricing their smokes at around $4.35 a pack.  The laws and costs won’t detour smokers.  You must get rid of the product.

This is where the students have focused their movement on—removing the weapons.  According to the Wall Street article, “the students are demanding the ban on semiautomatic rifles and high-capacity magazines, and the expansion of background checks to all gun sales.”

ThompsonSubmachineAdInteresting enough, this was a similar argument used back in 1929.  Except the gun that the public wanted removed was the Thompson Submachine gun, and in 1934, the United States government enacted the National Firearms Act of 1934.  This made the sale of The Thompson Submachine Gun illegal for public sale, but could still be sold to the military.

The old adage, “Children should be seen and not heard,” is being shoved aside.  These are our future citizens and they are already becoming involved in our political process, and their voice is coming through Social Media as the tool for change, and it’s working.  The last generation to do this were the Baby Boomers, who became activists and politically active with everything from Civil Rights to United States involvement in Vietnam.  We kids couldn’t vote back then either!WT_May7_1970