Christopher Murphy · 9 June, 2020
The best brands are storytellers, they know that stories capture the audience’s attention and they use them as a hook to reel you in.
WhenSteve Jobs unveiled the iPod, he didn't sell it as a revolutionary new MP3 player (yawn), he sold it as: "1,000 songs in your pocket." ¹
1,000 songs in your pocket is remarkable, a revolutionary new MP3 player is mundane and instantly forgettable.
When you build your brand, consider the stories you share.
The stories are the bait on the hook that catches your attention. The products – hopefully beautifully designed and made – are what reel you in (to continue the fishing metaphor).
I'm gathering examples of brands – large and small – that use stories as a core part of their messaging on this page.
Shane Parrish, Farnam Street
I'm a fully paid up member of Farnam Street, so Shane Parrish's storytelling has clearly worked its magic on me.
What I like about Parrish – over and above Farnam Street's great content ² – is the storytelling used in the site's biographies page.
I spent ██ years working for a three-letter-intelligence agency, starting as a ██████ and ending in charge of ████████████████.
Clearly Parrish had a lot of fun playing with the undisclosed aspects of his background when writing his biography. His use of
redacted text creates a sense of intrigue while you – a potential customer – undertake your due diligence on the site's authors.
His references to working for 'a three-letter-intelligence' agency provide a hint. Perhaps it’s the CIA? Who knows. (It might equally be the DOE, slightly less intriguing, but a three letter agency nonetheless.)
Regardless of the agency, the seed is sown.
What I also love about the biography is the sense of a career trajectory starting as X and ending in charge of Y:
…starting as a ██████ and ending in charge of ████████████████.
This is cleverly written and it's the perfect hook. If you – like me – want to 'master the best of what other people have already figured out', who better to teach you than a ██████.
¹ Jobs was the consummate storyteller.
There's a widely-held view that Apple's future was thrown into doubt when Jobs sadly died. I don't hold that view. Jobs built a culture at Apple and that culture is still firing on all cylinders.
What Apple has struggled to replace, however, is Jobs's showmanship.
² 'No Noise. All Signal.' is a great strapline, especially when it’s targeted at curious individuals who are tired of wading through noise to seek a signal.