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Storytelling - One hotdog one brand

Last week I introduced in my first blog on “Storytelling”, the power of uncapping the left side of your brain to creatively conceive a story that gets noticed. Storytelling is fundamentally part of our DNA and really adds that extra something when defining brands. Storytelling gets out the qualitative components of a brand that connect us emotionally to what drives success.

Most people believe storytelling is a god given gift and they don’t believe they have a creative bone in his or her body. However, you would be surprised how creative you are when shown technique’s to unleash the magic.

How can I create a story that gets noticed?

Well it is very similar to the creative process used in big global agencies. You start simply with a “brief” to help focus your thoughts to a simple moment of truth and clarity. Too often the creative brief that is used consistently with some the world’s leading brands to create award winning advertising campaigns is forgotten when trying to build a presentation and story. A well crafted and focussed brief will give you the starting point to get going and start writing. Lee Clow the famous Creative Director and former CEO at TBWA/Chiat Day is best known for crafting the story and advertising around the Apple brand and the iconic Apple 1984 commercial that was launched at the Superbowl. Lee left an indelible stamp on me back in 1999 when he told me “you need a focus point that will give you the direction to figure out creatively your ideas. This simple focus will help you figure out how to position your idea to fit into people’s lives”.

The creative brief used for your story as outlined by Terry Lee Stone will provide the answers to some key questions that will assist you to be smart, timely, innovative and aesthetically pleasing. These questions include

• What is this project? What’s the task at hand? • Why are we doing it? What is the problem or opportunity? • Who is it really for? And why should they care? • Where and how will it be used? When? • Who will become engaged with it directly and indirectly? • How will it be remembered and retold? • What needs to be done? By whom? By when?

I can’t impress more, how important it is to keep this short and focused to inspire you to greatness. OK maybe not your first try, but at least get you going in the right direction. There are many forms a brief can take; I like to use one that put everything on one page. A snap shot of the task at hand.

So what’s does this actually look like?

To help get you started, I thought back in time to one of my really successful speaking opportunities. While at Dairy Queen as the Vice President of Marketing, the DQ system in North America was known for having a great hot dog, but different areas of the US and Canada used many different versions of the Hot Dog. As a marketer and from a brand perspective this was unacceptable for many reasons and I was charged with speaking at the national convention in Orlando in front of 5000 franchisees across North America to get them “on side”. My task was to convince them to move to one hot dog, that’s right one hot dog, an interesting and difficult task to say the least. I was baffled with figuring out where to start over this very passionate issue. “They loved their dogs”. I used the power of storytelling and threw in some humour to make my point. I got started using this tried and true method I learned in my agency days at BBDO. The good old creative brief helped me figured out the real task utilizing the questions above. It went like this:

• What is this project? What’s the task at hand? Project “One Hot Dog”. Convince the DQ system to move one Hot Dog

• Why are we doing it? What is the problem or opportunity? Brand consistency. Franchisees were passionate about their special blend of Hot Dogs and will be hard to convince.

• Who is it really for? And why should they care?

DQ franchisees. They love their Hot Dogs, it is a national treasure.

• Where and how will it be used? When?

It will be consumed at DQ all year round as snack, lunch or dinner.

• Who will become engaged with it directly and indirectly?

The DQ consumer who craves the unusual and desires something a little different, even quirky.

• How will it be remembered and retold?

It will be remember by those that craze this American tradition, they will spread the word to their friends.

• What needs to be done? By whom? By when?

Determine the best system wide Hot Dog with consumers for the next season.

So you can see something as simple as a Hot Dog can be broken down into parts to help you design a story that will get you noticed. My story was a huge success and helped influence the system to uniformity.

Once you have organized your thoughts and the task at hand. You are now ready and armed with a plan that can be used to get started in crafting your story. Remember, keep it simple, focused and find that special idea or nugget that will get you noticed.

In my next blog I will look at other techniques used to come up with that big idea and nugget.

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