Is your brand a book or a movie?

Hannibal, Life of Pi, The DaVinci Code

The book was better. You hear this all the time and have probably experienced it – you’ve read a book and soon after a movie comes out based on that same book. You watch the movie and find that it just wasn’t the same, or maybe even a disaster.  The same feeling that the book elicited was diminished in the movie, and you find that you had a hard time connecting to the characters.

This is because while reading the book you formed a mental image of the characters and plot situations. Then when you saw the movie, these characters and scenes didn’t match what you developed in your imagination. The movie by itself may have been good, but it could never live up to your imagination.

One of the reasons is simply that you have injected yourself into the book without realizing it. The scenes are pulled from your own experience; the characters are often reflections of yourself.

Now it can be argued that good movies can accomplish the same thing, however for a brand, it may be easier to accomplish this if attempts are made to make it like a book. The brand and its story should be crafted in such a way that the customer has enough room to inject themselves into it and help create it in their imaginations. Through this, they will develop an emotional connection, and resulting loyalty.

To accomplish this leave a little uncertainty in your brand and let the customer fill it in.  The brand stands for something you just want hint enough to let the customer figure it out on their own. This is a concept great story tellers, such as Andrew Stanton, have been using for years. ““Don't give [the audience] four; give them two plus two.”

Implementing this is not always easy from a tactical standpoint. Here are few ways that it’s been down well -

A great example of a brand giving us two plus two is the hidden arrow in the Fedex logo. Speed and direction are not explicitly stated, but implied.

Another is Captain Morgan. Have you lifted your leg proud in the air as if on a barrel? Don’t lie, you’ve struck the pose. Captain Morgan has allowed you to see yourself in the brand, and without telling you has given you a vehicle in which to participate.

A brilliant tactic implemented by McDonalds is the “I’m Loving it” Jingle. Notice that the phrase “’I’m loving it” has been removed from the “ba da ba baaa” tune in more recent advertising? This isn’t by accident, they are making you fill in the details. Next time you hear it, think about how you couldn’t help but fill in the last part of that Jingle.

Lastly, Proctor and Gambles “Best Job” ad that has seen much attention this past year tells the story of “the hardest job is also the best job.” It doesn’t out right say that it is being a mom and even at the end, it gives us the information to draw the conclusion that being a mom is what it means. One of the comments on the video, “I bawl like a baby every time I watch this !

And I'm proud I do - it makes me think of my mom :)” is a testament to people filling in the blank with their own experience. 


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