The Story Behind the Brand

Human beings tell stories. That’s what they do. Long ago at the dawn of time, a family of early hominids sat in a cave by the fire they had lit to keep predatory animals away. There was a daddy, a mummy, three little girls and three little boys. After they’d finished gnawing on the bones of a woolly mammoth, Daddy Hominid leaned back against the wall of the cave, let out a satiBEHIND-THE-BRAND-LUXE-1024x683sfied eructation and looked around at his family. “Did I ever tell you,” he began, “about the time the sabre-toothed tiger came on your uncle and me when we were digging for grubs?”

And so the story began. The children had probably heard it before and Mummy Hominid certainly had, but that’s the way with good stories; they tell the listeners things the listeners know and value.

It’s the same with a brand. Brands can no more exist without stories than people can. Why? Because people make brands, and brands are for people.

Politicians and sociologists are very fond of the word “narrative.” The general public may think they understand something perfectly – that it knows, for example, why President Obama introduced a healthcare program and why the education system in America is organized the way it is and why it differs from the systems in, say, Malaysia or Germany. People think of what they know as “facts,” but to a politician or sociologist the “facts” a segment of the population “knows” are not facts at all but merely a narrative – and alternative narratives can and do exist.

Brands are no different. Building a brand that will survive for a long time and grow in the esteem of a loyal following requires that the brand have a narrative. The narrative need not be factually precise in all aspects, and probably won’t be. It doesn’t matter. No one will object. Most people won’t even notice.