We communicate through storytelling. Everything we say and everything we perceive as reality moves instantly from the present into memory. How those memories are categorized, stored, recalled and perceived is in the context of the story in which we have placed them. All of us in our lives and livelihoods experience our place in the world through stories and storytelling. Context is pretty much everything. One of the first realities I experienced as a trial lawyer is that there is no truth, no reality about what actually occurred until the jury decides what happened based on the stories that each side presents. And every advertising and promotion professional I have ever known has been paid to create stories that move their targeted consumer one step closer to adopting as their own reality the product or service being sold. If it were otherwise, all an advertiser would ever have to say is “Here’s my product. Buy it.” That of course, would never happen.
A brand is a story. Not the story of the brand, but of the emotions, aspirations, need fulfillment, social status and other sense of being conveyed through images, music, context and story. Who I am, who I want to be, who I want others to think of me as — the story of “me,” all conveyed in my relationship to the brand. Because part of everyone’s story are the brands she or he uses or aspires to use. And every one of us in the world of branding wants to make sure that the brands we nurture and represent become part of the consumer’s story, and that predators of these brands are not permitted to hijack them or their story.
The battle for reality in the marketplace is no different than in the courtroom. Each competitive brand has its story about how that brand is the best or a better choice for the demographic’s sense of personal reality. And everything a brand communicates about itself has to have credibility and integrity. Or it won’t be believed. Same in the courtroom — facts told by one who is proven to be untrustworthy or not credible are not believed — they do not become part of the real story.
So as it turns out, the ultimate goals of the marketer and the lawyer are not really different. Both want the brand story to live long and prosper, and both want to make sure that competitors and counterfeiters don’t denigrate, make false statements about or abduct the brand. This relationship may not be kumbaya, but it’s certainly a shared and valued interest. And one worth keeping in mind. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.