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  • Writer's pictureRick Ray

The Economics of Story-Sharing Part 1 of 3

(Or, when the going gets tough, the tough get a Strategic Brand Story™.)

The first of three principles of brandstory economics?

If you have ever worked in advertising or PR, direct marketing or new media, you know the value of stories to your campaigns. Stories engage your viewers and readers like nothing else and make your messages stick. They always have. Just think of the classic :30 “slice of life” TV commercial format. Or the once-upon-a-time famous “carosello” in Italy.

What many marketing decision makers (and their agencies) tend to not fully appreciate, however, is the even greater value of stories to the brands which their campaigns serve. If stories work for individual campaigns, how much better might they work across all brand activities?

This is the First Principle of brandstory economics. If your brand has a defined story – think of it as strategy with a human face, at its meanest – then all its activities can engage all its stakeholders in the same way. And all the brand’s representatives (its stakeholders!) – all of its employees, marketers, sales people, human resources, agencies, etc. – become its story-sharers, all on the same team, multiplying the ROI on all marketing (and HR!) expenditures.

Never has it been more crucial than in times as tough and uncertain as these to live and work by this First Principle.

By way of illustration, here is a brandstory example from our early days, verified by follow-on business results. When London & Continental Railways finally completed its rail link from London to Brussels and Paris in 2007, then shifted Eurostar services to their expensively restored station at St. Pancras, they had invested many billion Euros on behalf of multiple stakeholders. This was no ordinary project and required no ordinary treatment. We positioned St. Pancras as “Europe’s Destination Station” with a Strategic Brand Story™ entitled “Meet me at St. Pancras” and all the brand’s activities, agencies and stakeholders latched on to this story. Instead of the modest single digit revenue increase it had forecast, Eurostar posted 25% year on growth in its first six months at St. Pancras. So far, so good but, perhaps more important for those keen economics students out there, in the second year of trading at St. Pancras – notably the first full year after the collapse of Lehman Brothers – profits from its 56 shops, bars and restaurants rose 20% in the teeth of recession (lead by our story’s hero, “the longest champagne bar in Europe!”).

Want to know more? Part 2 with the Second Principle of brandstory economics is in the pipeline… so be sure to tune in later!


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