I’ve never been a fan of the term ‘stories’ when it comes to advertising. Sure, an ad can have a plot; an arc; a structure. But a brand as a whole is more than just a narrative.
It’s a business entity — a set of people, practices, and products. Sometimes it makes sense to tell stories about a brand; but the brand itself is not the story.
Rather than focus on what they want to say; companies should look to build connections — tribes, basically: those with a shared perspective or purpose.
In Cory Doctorow’s book ‘Eastern Standard Tribe’ online tribe members show their allegiance to a specific time-zone by syncing their circadian rhythms to it — even though they may be physically located in another part of the world. Cue a whole load of industrial espionage, double agenting, and 3 am car crashes.
Fictional this may be, it illustrates how, using the internet, we can be part of something bigger than what’s directly in front of us — in our everyday meatspace. We can participate and create entire identities out of choice rather than necessity.
Brands and companies can do exactly the same; they can find and grow their tribes by helping them to flourish with a common goal.
Why be merely be listened to when you can encourage others to actively participate in something bigger and more immersive?
You only need to look to the near-religious fervour that consumer brands like Nike, Coca Cola, Under Armour, and Apple are regarded with by their ‘followers’. Their messages transcend products; they are part of a wider drive to celebrate progress, essentially.
There’s no reason B2B brands can’t do the same.