A Brand Needs a Story

Once Upon a Time

Stories are important to brands. And, years ago, I learned just how important.

I worked for a company whose name was always being mispronounced. Every new prospect would mispronounce our name and even many of our longtime clients would get it wrong. We were in the business of putting together communications campaigns and promotions branded in the client’s name. So, just how important was it for them to get our name right?  Most people at the company just laughed about it and didn’t seem to care what they called us as long as the checks cleared. But for some reason it always annoyed me.

So, I took to telling a little story about the company when I’d meet people for the first time. The firm actually started as a watch shop.  The family was Swiss and would import watch parts into the US from the old country.   They would assemble the watches and sell them in their shop. They’d been doing this for about 35 years when the depression came along and practically no one could afford their watches.  In desperation, one of the founder’s sons starting taking his watches from company to company and sold them as employee retirement gifts. That’s how the tradition of giving an expensive watch as a retirement gift began… a desperate man trying to figure out a way to sell his wares.

In telling the story, I’d say the family name three times.  Afterwards, something amazing happened.  The people who heard the story would always pronounce the company name correctly, and they always remembered the story practically verbatim.  It even got the point where people would introduce me to their colleagues and tell the retirement watch story for me.

That’s what taught me just how important a story is to a brand.  If you’re just a name, why get it right?  But, if there’s an engaging story behind the name, it elevates the brand to almost mythical proportions.

What’s your brand’s engaging story?

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