Stories Provide An Edge

Brains on Fire Book - sm


Friends of mine - people I met through the Word of Mouth Marketing Association - wrote a book last year. They named it after their company "Brains On Fire," and now they are igniting movements and inspiring story tellers far and wide. Co-founder and "Courageous President" Robbin Phillips sent me a special autographed copy during the holidays that I finally had time to begin reading. Wow! I'm really enjoying it!

It's a rapid fire page turner for sure.
Filled with ideas, insights, and inspiring cases of effective word of mouth movements, it inspired me to use some of their key thoughts when I spoke to PEMCO's top sales people at our annual awards dinner.

Slogans vs Stories

The role of traditional branding is to influence behavior. The difference with movements, with the momentum of today’s market place, is to inspire behavior.

People don’t want to be influenced. There’s a negative connotation with that… like you’re trying to control their minds and actions. But people long to be inspired. And inspiring them to action is win-win.

It’s really important that we remember to take off our marketing hats and just be thinking about how to relate to people in an honest, open, transparent way. And that’s where stories come in.

Stories are powerful… especially when they are personal. Stories can help build movements… but they aren’t our next TV ads. Stories aren’t there to be exploited. They are there to be shared. Let’s compare stories with slogans.

 Stories live forever.  Slogans live until the agency tires of them
 Stories are real  Slogans are made up.
 Stories pull you in.  Slogans push out a message.
 Stories are deep.  Slogans are shallow.
 Stories are personal.  Slogans are impersonal.
 Stories are passed on by word of mouth.   Slogans are forced into consciousness.
 Stories are part of who we are.  Slogans describe what we would like to be.

Think about it… You don’t tell a “slogan” about your grandfather, how your parents met, or even how you were treated at a restaurant. Slogans are part of the ad world’s history. Stories are part of our life and history that gets reported on in the future.

When you have a big idea, make it come alive with a story. Make it real. Color in some details. Let it be something people care about.

And never, never, never, try to put it on a mug!

(Thanks to Robbin, Greg, Geno, and Spike - Authors of "Brains On Fire"

I used these notes comparing slogans to stories to set up my remarks.

Add A New Comment

  • Rod Brooks
    Feb. 10, 2011
    Thanks for stopping by Therese - Stories about people and what we experience and believe in, "ignite" great movements for sure.

    - Rod
  • Therese Beale
    Feb. 9, 2011
    Love the chart on stories vs. slogans! So often companies invest their energy into honing the perfect tag line when their people -- customers, partners, employees -- find a good story far more memorable.

    I learned years ago as a journalist that the best stories unfold when they start with a focus on people. The human interest aspect of any story is what makes it memorable and repeatable.

    I look forward to more insights from Seeing The Edge. Thanks for sharing!

The Fine Print

Rod Brooks (that's me) is VP & CMO of PEMCO Mutual Insurance Company and serves as Immediate Past Chair of the Board of Directors for the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA).  It's important to disclose both of those relationships and to be clear that this is my personal blog where I share thoughts and opinions that are solely my own.  Contact me!

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