Here’s a thought experiment: Inasmuch as “storytelling” is an oft-bandied notion in marketing circles this past decade, not a lot gets said about stories in relation to one another. Consider the way the Marvel Cinematic Universe or the ever-expanding Star Wars franchise interweaves narratives over vasts amount of media and the possibilities become clear.
We all know that, like superheroes, a brand story is often an origin story. For every orphan that becomes a Superman or Harry Potter, there’s a Hewlett-Packard or Apple incubating in a garage. The archetypes are so ubiquitous that they’re cliché and yet the brand fidelity they engender nearly guarantees every Avengers movie is a blockbuster, every iPhone a bestseller.
Not all brands have Marvel’s Kevin Feige or the ghost of Steve Jobs at the helm, so they need to keep telling their story. But — to expand on the garage lore — brands seldom get beyond the carport let alone down the driveway and into an intersecting network of narratives like most franchises.
Brand Story Glory
Albeit, this is easier for Hollywood since their story is the product. For marketers, the product is the product and the story is just a means of selling it. But still, why shouldn’t your brand story have an arc that extends into spin-offs, sequels, prequels and an inevitable line of action figures? If we began to think of our products as characters with real story arcs it seems we could script a sense of inevitable success as would any hack worth their Writers Guild membership.
What’s the difference, for example, between multi-channel marketing and Hollywood’s pursuit of transmedia storytelling through film, comics, video games, etc.? Every platform you message through — from social media up to trade shows — is an opportunity to expand your brand’s reach with narrative.
What’s a trade show but Comic-Con for your industry? Next time, consider making your trade show exhibit a place for fans fall in love with your story and sequels will surely follow.