I loved the article "What is the relationship between the story and the meaning of the brand" by Patrick Hanlon, author of the book Primal Branding, on the website of one of my regulars and referents: Branding Strategy Insider.
So much so that I have decided to translate it for you. Sometimes I deal with issues of storytelling, but Hanlon's angle has seemed different to me, Inspiring. I hope it brings you as much as I do..
Here's a one-minute video summary:
Being born is already a story
We are born with a story. From the moment we throw ourselves headlong into the world we are anointed with a name, then we are told that we are a son, a daughter, a sister, a prime, a grandson, here's your bed, here is your room, this is your home. We are part of a family, of a home, of a building, of a street, of a camp, of a neighborhood, of a village, of a city, of a metropolis, of a state, of a region, of a country, of a homeland, of a continent, of a planet revolving around a sun moving through an expanding Universe.
They give us the names of things and tell us if they are good or bad. We started naming other things to identify them. We classify and place everything in groups. We build our world until it becomes everything around us., surrounded by all that is not. We identify things because until they are given a name, they don't make sense, do not exist.
It all starts with a name
Everything we know starts with a name, followed by a story. This is not just a rock. It is a particular type of rock. It is an agate. It is a general name for microcrystalline quartz and the mineraloid moganite. It is a moon rock. It is the rock that David used to kill Goliath.. It is the rock of the ages. Pure storytelling.
Parents, teachers and society tell us how to fit into their world, how to become square pegs for your square holes. They iron out the rough edges and tell us how to fit in, while, Paradoxically, praise those who excel. They tell us what we are good at and what we are bad at. If you're lucky, you have the opportunity to undo all that luggage and repack it. And yet, they are nothing more than stories. Life is surrounded by a series of stories you believe in that help you believe in yourself and the world around you.. Stories create personal worlds that are then interwoven and become the social fabric..
The power of stories
There are also the stories that others tell us.. And those we tell ourselves. Which ones weaken us and which ones strengthen us?? Useful or harmful, they are only stories. If you don't like history, you can always leave it and start a new one. Stories can be told, but they can also be destroyed, break and forget. Old stories can be replaced by others. New stories. I would argue that many of the social and mental health problems people suffer from are the result of believing in bad stories.
Stories with meaning rumble the rational and emotional parts of our brainPatrick Hanlon
Stories help make sense, help us understand our world and our place in it. These stories become believable and are the linchpin of a belief system.: stories about the myth of origin, the creed, icons, rituals, the lexicon, non-believers and leadership systematically envelop us and embrace our human core. They nourish us and we love them for it. If a great story is told, we don't get tired of it.
Entering someone else's story
Sometimes people wake up and find themselves participating in someone else's story.. Our culture teaches us to be worthy of a job, to get a good job, to be apprentices of ourselves. At the root of this narrow tunnel of demand, there is the demand to stick to a career, to a job to deliberately and willingly disassociate ourselves from our own history and become part of someone else's story.
The fact is that, even if you have an amazing job in an amazing company, if you work at Ford, you are part of Henry Ford's story. Do you have a great job at Apple? Great, but you're completing steve Jobs' story, helping to make its dent in the universe.
This is known as the “midlife crisis”. The key here is to write your own story. Your freedom is self-sufficiency. Independence. Follow your own path.
The story and the brand, your brand
The story you build around you is what is called “Brand”. In fact, your brand is the community of people around you. Because they tell the stories. And the same goes for products or services or concepts and ideas.Patrick Hanlon
Everything we name, if we want it to make sense, needs a story. Without it, things have no context, nor understanding, nor meaning. People don't understand us, let alone care about us. Without the history and context it provides, we are irrelevant.
Let's think about a painting. They were mere splashes of paint on the canvas... until it was given a name: Abstract Expressionism. Were thrillers small until they were labeled Pulp Fiction.
Words, Words, Words. Story about story about story. The results are existential: Do we live in a “Matrix”? Is the reality real?? Are we experiments of our own invention?? Is there even a purpose behind the purpose??
Our brains, two million years old, were designed to help us survive on forest trails and mountain plains, killing spiders and giant mammoths. Not to witness rays of light flashing at millions of cycles per second to create the seamless reality of mass communications..
Who has preserved the stories?
Story keepers memorized and kept the original tribal narratives safe.Patrick Hanlon
Stories were memorized line by line, generation after generation. The Iliad was a memorized story that was transferred to pen and paper., and then to the printing press. In his day, students were forced to memorize speeches by presidents, or senators from Rome. The last vestige of the ancients.
As these singular and sacred stories have been incorporated into today's mass communications and have been broadcast through the media., our brains strive to adapt and understand. If we add magical realism, memes, disinformation, and fake news, we have a problem.
That's right: from stories memorized generation after generation, even storms of multimedia bits that we can't remember an hour later. And the bombing continues..
Just like the legends about who discovered fire, the Industrial Age created its own myth. Many current fictional heroes follow the Superman myth, Batman, James Bond and Marvel's Action Figures; all are good examples of being good at their job. Each of them comes with a solid purpose and a forged work ethic.: inspiring models for the working class.
The new super-fictions
The age of information and super-fiction has its own heroes and action figures.. And we know who they are.
Stories do not exist to fill the empty spaces or cracks in our timeline. (although sometimes they do). Most of the time they exist to teach or educate. We learn from the riddles of the fox, by Shakespeare, by Sartre, of Jesus, of the Kardashians…
Algorithms are becoming modern storytellers, who tell us what they think we want to hear, with vast memories that remind us of what we prefer to hear or what they want us to hear. Preferences can be misleading.
When we are born, we throw ourselves headlong into the planet with only two fears: the fear of falling and the fear of noise. The other fears are a whole story.Patrick Hanlon
Often, these stories are based on experience: Don't touch the poisonous mushroom! But others are conjectures: you're stupid, fat, clumsy, a bad athlete...
It's just stories. Stories we can exterminate, crush, erase, break or burn at the stake.
Each person, place, thing is wrapped in a story. What's yours?
Cover photo: Stock Photos from Caracolla / Shutterstock
Convinced that everything leaves a mark, I help companies better connect with their stakeholders through personal branding programs (personal brand management) and employee advocacy (programs of branded internal ambassadors).
Socio of Soymimarca's Integra Personal Branding, Brand Directory of Omnia Branding, I also collaborate with Ponte en Valor, Brandergizers, MoreThanLaw, Noema Consulting and Quifer Consultores.
I participate in various programs at IESE, ISDI and EAE, among others. Collegiate advertising, Master in Marketing. Humanities Degree Student.
My advertising DNA comes from 20 years in agencies: Time/BBDO, J.W.T., Bassat Ogilvy, Saatchi & Saatchi, Altraforma and TVLowCost among others.