Brand storytelling isn’t a new concept, but with the explosion of social media, the opportunities to tell stories as part brand marketing initiatives have become a strategic priority. Marketers have been telling brand stories for years through advertising, in-person brand experiences, and more, but the art of writing those brand stories as effective pieces of online content is a challenge that few are trained to do.

Today, the strongest marketing team will have room for new roles like the data architect and the brand creative content director. While the former position focuses on all that big data has to offer, the latter focuses on increasing consumer emotional involvement in the brand through social media and content marketing stories as well as on weaving the brand storyline into offline brand experiences and marketing initiatives.
Stories matter in marketing because great stories create powerful connections between the audience, the characters within the stories and the storyteller. When you can develop an emotional connection between consumers and your brand, your brand’s power will grow exponentially. Brand storytelling requires creativity and an understanding of fiction writing fundamentals. It’s different from standard copywriting, because brand stories shouldn’t be self-promotional. Instead, you’re indirectly selling your brand when you’re telling brand stories.

Here are key factors, according to Forbes, to focus on as you begin to create stories for your brand:

Show Don’t Tell. The first thing fiction writers learn when they step into a writing class is the importance of showing the audience what is happening rather than telling them. Nonprofit organizations are great examples of showing rather than telling in brand stories. For example, rather than simply telling consumers there are people or animals in need, they show by using emotional and descriptive language. Remember the Sarah Mclachlan SPCA commercials? It’s impossible to listen to watch those ads without feeling something powerful.

Create Characters People Care About. Many brand stories feature brand mascots as the primary characters, but you don’t have to create brand characters like the Geico gecko or Flo from Progressive. You can use your audience’s buyer personas as characters to drive a deeper relationship with your brand. When your target audience can relate to your consumers, their emotional connection to your brand grows organically. For example, The Google Chrome ads use buyer personas as brand story characters – there is likely one ad that features a character you can relate to.

Understand the Complete Story Arc. Your brand stories shouldn’t be short stories. They should be part of a long-term story. So, create obstacles for your characters that your target audience can identify with, and motivate your audience to root for your characters as they get through obstacles. If you tell the complete story in one shot, you lose the opportunity to build a relationship with your audience. Dos Equis does a fantastic job in not only creating a great back story for its brand character but also in keeping its audience hanging.


Stay Consistent with Your Brand Promise. Confusion is the number one brand killer, so make sure your brand stories are always consistent with your brand promise. If your target audience doesn’t understand how your story relates to their perceptions of your brand and their expectations for it, they’ll turn away from your brand in search of another. Red Bull provides consistency in brand storytelling as the Red Bull brand image is one of adventure, extreme sports, and freedom. From its World of Red Bull commercial series to Felix Baumgartner’s 128,100 foot space jump, it elicits emotions in its audience through brand stories, drives emotional connections, and reinforces the relationship with its audience.

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Attention Brand Strategists, Designers, Futurists, Trend Spotters, Directors of Insight, Foresight, Innovation, Marketing, and Market Research - your chance to join a New World Re-Imagined is slipping away.

In less than a month, all those charged with Future Planning will unite at Foresight & Trends 2013 (FT'13) to embark on a career changing journey that will translate visionary knowledge and exploratory experiences into future business opportunities and growth.   FT'13 has already achieved record breaking attendance. Register today to secure your spot.



It's all about the HOW not the what.  Find out how FT'13 is relevant for you: Download the agenda to see the speaker faculty along with full detail on Contextualization sessions, Implementation workshops and Exploratory experiences which cater to the specific needs of YOUR role: Market Research and Insights, Innovation, Trends and Futuring, Brand Strategy and Design, Marketing and Strategy.

EXCITING NEW ADDITIONS TO THE PROGRAM

- Macroforces & Trends: Shaking Up the Rules for Success 
Tom LaForge, Global Director, Human & Cultural Insights, The Coca-Cola Company
- Better, Not More: How Foresight Can Help Unlock New Value
Manoj Fenelon, Futurist, PepsiCo
- Cocktail Reception hosted by The Ipsos SMX Salon Session, immediately following the Downtown Art Walk 
- Leveraging Social Analytic Technology to Solve Global Humanitarian Issues.  Michael Kim, Managing Director, Ferrazzi Greenlight
- Plus, a special dance performance from: Deena Thomsen of Axiom and Nina McNeely of WIFE

Take your conference experience to an intimate level, brainstorm and network with industry thought leaders during this invitation only lunch. Join Tom LaForge, Global Director, Human & Cultural Insights, The Coca-Cola Company; Richard Weiss, Global Brand Anthropologist and Futurist, Geometry Global; and others - Space is very limited please be sure to register and RSVP today!

FT'13 - The antidote to conventional learning.  This is YOUR invitation to uncover and capture new opportunities and ensure future business relevance.


Brothers Tom and David Kelley, are no strangers to creativity - they are the minds behind the design firm IDEO known for designing the first Apple mouse and an early laptop computer. David also founded the d.school Institute of Design at Stanford while Tom Kelley wrote the popular book “The Art of Innovation,” in 2001.

Recently, the two have published a new book called “Creative Confidence” about how early failures and setbacks can lead creative people to shut down their best ideas. The book illustrates examples of how people gained the creative confidence you might see on a kindergarten playground, using the “design thinking” methodologies the brothers’ firm popularized. Their book also discusses the idea that in our personal lives, or in business, there is a problem of creative insecurity. According to David, most of our cultures in corporate America are not set up to reward failure in the same way we reward success.

“We’ve been so excited to find both at IDEO and the d. school at Stanford that it turns out people are all kind of wildly creative. I know it sounds like Pollyanna, but we’ve really found that to be true,” he recently told The New York Times in an interview. “The real issue is: what’s blocking them?”

He thinks that fear of failure is what’s really going on. People don’t have the confidence to push their ideas because they’re fearful someone will shut them down and they’ll be known as “the person who came up with that bad idea.”

“There’s this kind of misguided view that if you’re creative this stuff is effortless,” explained Tom. “ It’s just not true! Even Mozart didn’t sit down at the piano on the first day. People do need a little help. They sometimes need tools or methodologies.”

In the technology world that pressure is even more persistent. “The pace of the industry is truly innovate or die. If you have a vintage wine business, there’s still innovation there, in the way you market and tell your stories, but it’s not a survival skill. If you can’t be creative in the tech world, you better take your bat and ball and go home,” said David.

So, you want to get more creative right now on a certain project? The brothers say jump right in, get involved, go meet all the stakeholders, and go talk to users.

Planning is good, but not in the beginning, according to Tom and David. Planning is good after you know what you’re doing, after you’ve had insights. And if you’re at a big company and it’s hard to get started because there’s just so much resistance to what you’re doing, we really believe in telling everyone, “it’s an experiment,” so it’s not so precious and you can do it in kind of a quick and dirty way.

The best way to inject a more creative vibe into the room, said Tom, is get out of the room. As long as you are in the room, all you have available to you are a subset of ideas already in the brains of the people who are there.

“What we find is consistent with creatively confident people is they start with the idea that they don’t have all the answers. They go out and observe human behavior around them, on whatever problem they’re working on, and use that. People out there are misbehaving. People out there are acting differently than you imagine. In the difference between your worldview and the actual ground truth there is sometimes an idea or opportunity.”

Both Tom and David commented on the fact that they are wearing large hats in the author photo of their book.  David says that will find people that are confident, for any reason, and they’re liable to dress in way that is more expressive, and not worry so much about what other people are going to think.

Tom added, “Creative confidence is really two things combined. It’s the natural ability to come up with breakthrough ideas, combined with the courage to act on them."


About the Author: Amanda Ciccatelli, Social Media Strategist of the Marketing Division at IIR USA, has a background in digital and print journalism, covering a variety of topics in business strategy, marketing, and technology. Amanda is the Editor at Large for several of IIR’s blogs including Next Big DesignCustomers 1st, and ProjectWorld and World Congress for Business Analysts, and a regular contributor to Front End of Innovation and The Market Research Event,. She previously worked at Technology Marketing Corporation as a Web Editor where she covered breaking news and feature stories in the technology industry. She can be reached at aciccatelli@iirusa.com. Follow her at @AmandaCicc. 

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These days, more than ever before, brands are behaving like people. It’s all part of a movement on behalf of many brands that want to be seen not big corporate behemoths, but as companies that value their customers as individuals. The latest trend for brands is to be simply “be human.”

 In fact, Jetblue this week announced the launch of a campaign called "Air on the Side of Humanity" focusing on the qualities that make them a carrier that cares about people. "Jetblue was founded on the mission to inspire humanity, it's always been important to us," Marty St. George, JetBlue's SVP-marketing and commercial, told Ad Age.

Still, he acknowledges that the company felt it should now further emphasize the message to consumers in order to help the airline differentiate itself from its larger competitors. The new ad suggests that JetBlue empathizes with how difficult air travel can be today, and it reminds viewers that JetBlue offers award-winning customer-service, free snacks and more legroom:



"There are competitors trying to make the humanity claim," said St. George. "We invented humanity in air travel. It's important to look at our ads and make sure they show our core DNA and say, 'only JetBlue can say that.'

In addition, TD Bank and Liberty Mutual are trying to distance themselves from being seen as institutions, and have devoted airtime to campaigns that tout being "human" as part of their brand platforms. Even agencies are jumping on the bandwagon – just this week an agency called "Humanaut" launched. The shop -- where the chief creative officer is a former CP&B staffer and the lead advisor and investor is adman Alex Bogusky -- says its platform is about exploring how "brands and technology collide with humans."

According to a recent study, the most admired brands listen to the world around them and are open to social influence. They use data to organize their capabilities around an individual's needs, rather than the other way around. In short, the most successful companies have recognized that 'fortress' behavior is no longer an effective approach to interacting with customers or communities.

The site even states, "Of course, we want everything to be perfect. But we're only human. So if there's ever an issue, we'll keep working until we get it right. That's what it means to bank human."


About the Author: Amanda Ciccatelli, Social Media Strategist of the Marketing Division at IIR USA, has a background in digital and print journalism, covering a variety of topics in business strategy, marketing, and technology. Amanda is the Editor at Large for several of IIR’s blogs including Next Big DesignCustomers 1st, and ProjectWorld and World Congress for Business Analysts, and a regular contributor to Front End of Innovation and The Market Research Event,. She previously worked at Technology Marketing Corporation as a Web Editor where she covered breaking news and feature stories in the technology industry. She can be reached at aciccatelli@iirusa.com. Follow her at @AmandaCicc. 


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When it comes to creativity, we tend have a “you've either got it or you don't” mentality. We think creativity is innate – something only the fortunate are born with. As it turns out, we’re wrong.

Contrary to popular belief, no one is born without a creative bone in his or her body. In other words, we've all got it, but our personalities play a role in the kind of creative we are. Since many of us still think of creativity as a special personality, there's a lot about the phenomenon about which we're misinformed.

"Our creative process is how we see the world and how we make decisions," David B. Goldstein, artist, researcher, management consultant and the co-author of "Creative You: Using Your Personality Type to Thrive" told The Huffington Post.  "There's more than one way to be creative -- everyone is creative and can be creative in their own way."

Here are five creativity myths, according to Goldstein, that will hopefully unleash your inner creative genius:

Stepping "outside of your comfort zone" is the best way to elicit creativity.
"Creativity comes from finding our comfort zone and standing in it," Goldstein said. "When we're comfortable and acting in our preferences, we have the courage to take risks."

When you're not comfortable, you're less likely to take the risks that could lead to that bright idea. And, our best ideas come in the most unexpected places - like in the car driving home -where we feel comfortable.

Brainstorming is the best ways to come up with brilliant ideas.
Some feel most alive when surrounded by a group of people. But this is not the case for all - especially the introverted types who experience a sense of draining when they're around others, Goldstein explained.

Being creative means being spontaneous.
Some of the most creative works came with a set of plans. In fact, Painter Henri Matisse constructed all of his paintings before he began. He even wore a suit and tie while he created - not exactly the splattered, ragged overalls we associate with artsy folk.

Creative people must invent something.
Only 30 percent of the population has the personality of the "intuitive types” like the Einsteins and the Edisons who are big picture thinkers who create something out of nothing.  Goldstein says these kinds of thinkers are abstract and impractical - they contemplate the future and solve future problems.  

Creativity means having a finished product.
You don't need to create something worthy of display to be considered creative. Those with a "perceiver" personality type tend to never see things as entirely complete, because they're always inspired to add more. "If you're a perceiver, you prefer endlessly modifying, editing, repainting and revisiting since there is an unlimited and continuous flow of data to consider," Goldstein wrote.

About the Author: Amanda Ciccatelli, Social Media Strategist of the Marketing Division at IIR USA, has a background in digital and print journalism, covering a variety of topics in business strategy, marketing, and technology. Amanda is the Editor at Large for several of IIR’s blogs including Next Big DesignCustomers 1st, and ProjectWorld and World Congress for Business Analysts, as well as a regular contributor to Front End of Innovation and The Market Research Event blogs. She previously worked at Technology Marketing Corporation as a Web Editor where she wrote breaking news and feature stories in the technology industry. She can be reached at aciccatelli@iirusa.com. Follow her at @AmandaCicc.  



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Today, mobile-friendly websites and responsive design are among the hottest topics in web world. The world has gone mobile now and everyone is accessing the internet from their mobile devices only. So, you must address a mobile strategy as when designing for a mobile friendly website, you must think about the design process for mobile devices and their limits.

Here are some things according to, Searchenginejournal.com, that you should keep in mind when designing for mobile.

Keep it Simple                                                                                                                                
You should not forget that simplicity is a requirement for a mobile-friendly website. To retain the friendliness in your mobile site, you must avoid too much content. Usability aspects of the mobile website also require a simplified method to design, layout, and navigation. You must plan something for the interface and navigation so that any visitor can easily walk through the pages of your site, without any pressure.

Practice Responsive Design
Checking your website in a few web browsers and launching no longer do the job. Now, you must to follow a well-rounded method and optimize your site for a vast landscape of desktop and mobile browsers. Utilizing HTML5, CSS3, and web fonts will result in a successful mobile site that can be accessed on any mobile device.

Define the Context
You need to define what is necessary in your business that must be first popped up when people visit your site in their mobile devices. You don’t take the same actions on your mobile device as on the desktop when browsing a site; therefore, you have to be careful when choosing features and content for your website. Think from the visitors’ point of view and understand what they’ll look for.

Keep it Short
Typing is often painful in the world of tablets and smartphones. Hence, you shouldn’t allow too much text input for users. Requisites like sign up form should be kept short as more number of fields reduces user satisfaction and interest.

Make it Interactive
A mobile site has to be interactive, especially when a user takes any action while browsing through the site. For example, a button must change visually when a person clicks, as it indicates that something is in progress.

Define Your Brand
When you are putting all the things into consideration, you shouldn’t forget defining your brand. Make sure your brand is instantly recognizable when you showcase it with logo, colors and style.

Ensure Mobile Compatibility
Test your mobile website with various mobile devices, including tablets and smartphones, on various operating systems and screen resolutions. You can also take a help of web-based emulators to test your mobile site.



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