By: Heather Graulich, Writer, Custom Sales
When I taught middle school English, all of my students learned how to break down any kind of story into its various components. Short story, essay, poem or epic novel - every piece of good writing is truly the sum of its parts. Understanding how the parts make the whole is equally important when marketing your brand, and being able to break it down will help you communicate your brand quickly and concisely to a consumer. It’s no surprise, then, that elements of good writing are a key component to branding.
Here are four examples:
1. Topic v. theme: These are two distinct elements in storytelling, and it’s easy to get them confused. Your brand should have a distinct “theme,” or feel, that becomes instantly identifiable to consumers. When marketing your brand, you can use numerous “topics” to sell it, but your theme must remain consistent. An example would be the “theme” adopted by Subway that its sandwiches are healthier than traditional fast food fare. They’ve used various “topics” to tell this story: Olympic athletes eat at Subway, guys trying to lose weight eat at Subway (Jared), these 11 subs only have 400 calories - but the theme remains unchanged.
2. Mood and style: The writing style used by an author often conveys mood. Short, snappy sentences? These quicken the pace of the storytelling and can raise excitement. Long, languid sentences draw out the pace and have a calming effect. What is the mood you want conveyed by your brand? Check out the difference between the language Canyon Ranch spa properties uses and that used by Universal Studios Orlando Note that it’s not just the length of the sentences, it’s about word choice, as well. On a ride at Universal you’ll “blast off on a high-speed roller coaster rampage.” At Canyon Ranch, you’ll “enjoy our signature Canyon Stone Massage, let go of all stress with Watsu®, a moving massage in water, or indulge in a blissful Ayurvedic body treatment enhanced by fragrant herbs and soothing oils.” These are obvious examples, but if you look for it, you’ll see it mood and style being used in every good marketing campaign.
3. Methods of characterization: Characters are defined by what they say, what they do, and how others react to them. Your brand is its own character. Once you know the “theme” of your brand, you can characterize it. Subway does this by talking about the “fresh” qualities of the sandwiches (what the brand says); by showing consumers engaged in fit lifestyle behaviors like sports (what the brand does – or in this case, supports) and by showing fit athletes voicing preference for the sandwiches (how others react). In this way, consumers “get to know” the brand just as they would get to know a character in a novel. This forges a brand relationship that can last a lifetime.
4. Conflict/action/resolution: No story is complete without these, even a marketing story. Everything has conflict and therefore needs action to resolve conflict. Subway is banking on the conflict many people have with their weight. The action? Eat Subway sandwiches. The resolution? Lose weight. Think about nearly any marketing or ad campaign and you’ll start to see the conflicts presented to you, the consumer. And you want to resolve those conflicts, don’t you? The brand is banking on it.