The Bard of Brands is dedicated to finding your narrative, the unique soul and ethos of your brand as a differentiator in a crowded and dynamic market and activating it to create sales. Nothing is more true than the axiom "the story sells the spirit" and with the dominance of large brands and the resources they have on hand, that narrative becomes a small brand's competitive edge.
A recent report from Wm Grant & Sons, makers of Balvenie, Glenfiddich and Hudson Whiskey, revealed that brand loyalty is dead, especially among the much coveted Millennial generation (LDA-35). Instead, these consumers are gravitating toward “unique experiences from the brands they engage with”. Multi-national spirits companies will inevitably use this to throw huge chunks of money at it, trying to differentiate in the market place by creating dozens of soul-less brands with manufactured experiences, many of which will fail. They can afford it; the small brand can't.
But you might say, 'I've already got a story' and my response is this: does one story tell me about your whole life as a person? Of course not, you're much more complex than that and so is your brand. A narrative is the long arc, made up of separate stories that connect to deliver a singular experience. The narrative is your house and each story is a doorway into it, offering each visitor a different entrance based on their needs and preferences.
THE METHODOLOGY BEHIND BARD OF BRANDS
A story for its own sake is just a story, but for a brand it must sell product. I've created a simple methodology to discover your brand's narrative that keeps this at the front of the customer's mind:
- Discovery: The process by which I understand your current state, your background and genesis, your challenges, failures and victories; your means of production, your goals and aspirations for the brand.
- The Narrative: the result. Its your collection of stories from every stakeholder in your operation: the founder(s), the sales people, the customers.
- The Application: your "living sales bible" and how it applies to the market place. It directs your marketing and sales strategy, your PR strategy, your line extensions, your labeling and POS materials. It's the foundation of your brand and its unique to your brand alone.
In April 2017, Robin Robinson and Jackie Summers of "Jack from Brooklyn" and creator of Sorel Liqueur, presented at American Distiller's Institute (ADI) in Baltimore, MD and gave a dynamic, informed and real-life look of what it takes to get and keep your product out on the market. On the last day of the conference, it played to a sold-out room and the comments ranged from "brutally honest" to "the best thing we saw here in 3 days". Here's an abridged version, check it out for yourself.
Click inside the presentation to advance the slides and builds
Why the "Bard"? William Shakespeare revealed the complexities of the human experience like no other writer. He constructed his plays in a complex, multi-threaded structure that held "a mirror up to nature". The Bard of Brands is dedicated to the narrative of your brand: the long, arcing, multi-faceted through-line that contains the stories, characters, drama, history and struggles of the brand. It is multi-dimensional; it is epic and poetic. It can contain legend and myth but it always rooted in a truth. And for a brand, it must have an outcome: it must connect in order to sell. It is the basis of a sales and marketing strategy, not a result of them. Those are about the "what" and "how". The Bard of Brands is about the "why".
From tales of ancient civilizations and heroes to homespun anecdotes from around the kitchen table, stories reveal our deepest meaning, dreams and longing in their telling. Stories move people to action, to take a stand, to right a wrong or to dig deeper. Stories motivate people. And for a small brand, stories are the foundations of their success.
the narrative: systematically engaged to work
1. The narrative must be rich enough that it can be effective coming from the creator (distiller, blender, etc.) to the fourth salesperson in a far off market.
2. It must be flexible enough so that each tier in the distribution chain receives their own value from it: wholesale, retail, bar and consumer with no break in continuity between them. Instead, it invites them all to be a part of this experience, to live in a chapter of this story.
3. It must survive production changes, product evolution and personnel replacement.
4. It tells us where to sell, to who and when. It is not “branding”; it is not “messaging”, it certainly is not “bullets”, but the foundation from which these spring. It abhors stupid, trendy marketing-speak, like "disruptive", and "meta" and other words that people bandy about with no meaning.
5. It favors education in a knowledge-based, smartphone-driven consumer environment, but it can have a well-spring of legend or myth. Combined, it must create more than consumers, it must create evangelists.
At the same time, who said a narrative shouldn't be fun? Here's one I did for a well-known Scotch whisky company that got the story across while still tweaking those who still didn't get it.