In 1997, a new product was being launched by a young CEO and here’s what he said to his team:
“Marketing is about values. … Our customers want to know … what it is that we stand for … And what we’re about isn’t making boxes for people to get their jobs done, although we do that well. … [We’re] about something more than that. … we believe that people with passion can change the world for the better.”
When finished with his talk he raised the level of emotion by playing the “Think Different” advertising campaign, which began with the words, “Here’s to the crazy ones….”
The advertisement was for Apple Computer, and the “crazy ones” were people who dared to think differently and believed they could change the world.
Steve Jobs went on to lead Apple Computer on a journey of changing the world. Steve and his “crazy ones” changed how we buy and listen to music, how we consume media, how we communicate, and even how we work.
He didn’t just give us an iPod. He gave us 1,000 songs in our pocket. He didn’t just build a computer. He changed our way of life and made it an experience. He changed how we think, what we do, how we experience it, and the memories we build.
We don’t accept boredom.
Apple blazed a path on how it communicates its brand story from every aspect, beginning with its larger than life purpose, innovative leadership, cutting edge design, user experience, and even how the customer sees himself as part of the big picture.
How did Apple succeed?
According to Bernadette Jiwa, my new favorite author, in her book, The Fortune Cookie Principle, she says that every idea, every innovation, every product and service has two elements: the cookie and the fortune.
“The cookie is the commodity, the utility, the tangible product. The cookie is the thing you put in the shop window and it has a fixed value.”
“Then there’s the fortune, the magical, intangible part of the product or service, which is where the real value lies in the hearts and minds of the customer. The fortune is the story, the thing that makes people feel something. The real reason they buy the product in the first place. It’s your purpose, your vision and values manifested. It’s also the customers’ story and worldview reflected back to them. The fortune gives the product an acquired value or a different perceived value.”
People don’t buy fortune cookies because they taste good. They buy them for the “free prize” inside. Marketers spend most of their time selling the cookie, when what they should be doing is finding a way to create a better fortune.
Ideas spread, products become irreplaceable, and businesses grow when they stop being mere commodities and have meaning attached to them. Customers don’t demonstrate loyalty to commodities, but they can fall in love with a brand that makes them want to care.
Following are some key insights and challenges:
- Whoever tells the best story wins. The product with the most features and benefits doesn’t always win. It’s not enough to be bigger or better.
- People don’t buy your technology, apps, programs, cars, services, homemade cookies, candles, graphic design, computers, printing, etc. They buy how it makes them feel.
- The story is your competitive advantage. Stories create value.
- What is your brand story? Your story is more than copy or narrative or text in a brochure. Your story isn’t what you tell people. It’s what they believe about you based on the signals your brand sends. Your story is made up of facts, feelings, and interpretations. It’s not an exercise, it’s a way of life, an ongoing process that is continually unfolding and engages the audience.
- If you want to build a successful, sustainable business, a brand that will garner loyalty and, if you’re fortunate, will become loved and talked about, you will have to start with your story.
Resources and Acknowledgements
You Tube, Think Different – http://youtu.be/Rzu6zeLSWq8
Bernadette Jiwa, The Fortune Cookie Principle: The 20 Keys To A Great Brand Story – The Story Of Telling Press (2013)
Seth Godin, Free Prize Inside: How to Make a Purple Cow – Penguin Group (USA) LLC (2004)