Audacious storytelling, branding, and why you shouldn’t buy this jacket

Seth Godin writes on his blog, “Unanimity is impossible unless you are willing to be invisible. We can be unanimous in our lack of feedback for the invisible one.”

Lately I’ve been rolling around some ideas about storytelling and branding. The company on my mind mostly is Patagonia, and their outside-of-ordinary marketing campaigns, particularly their 2011 Christmas campaign, which was really the pinnacle of… antimarketing:

Patagonia jacket
Don’t buy this (buy this).

And there’s Benetton, who advertised UNHATE – which isn’t really anything more than an idea – with ads like this:

Yes, they did.

Fashion brands, more than the rest of us, do whatever the hell they want (and why not?). Others are following their lead. In 2012, Dollar Shave Club’s CEO, Michael Dubin, racked up nearly nine million views with this little gem.

Whether you love or hate their ads, you can’t argue that these brands have loud voices – and we pay attention. You could argue that content marketing by its very nature (as the antithesis of interruption marketing) can’t pack the same punch.

Not true.

Good storytelling is brash or brave or gut-splitting funny or devastating. Good storytelling makes you sit up, shake your head, and reread that line. Great storytelling leaves you smiling dumbly at you computer screen. Perfect storytelling makes you forget that life exists outside of the story. Does this seem ridiculously simple? That’s because it is. But when we’re afraid to have a voice, to have an opinion, to say anything that might not resonate well with our audience, we often shut up and shut down. And the result is invisibility. 

Revolutionary, eh? Marketers and brands are realizing what publishing houses and bloggers and authors and preachers have always known: Create something that people care about–even if they disagree with you—and you’ll get noticed, read, and shared.

Write on, storytellers. 

Sara Fraser – Director, Business Development

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