Storytelling and the Imagination of Your Brand?

Ernesto Sirolli, most adequately pointed out when he said, “The future of every community lies in capturing the passion, imagination, and resources of its people”. Regardless if you are a business or community, conveying your passion, your imagination, and your story, complete with a compelling emotional attachment is a significant tool not to be over-looked when attempting to sell your brand image. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so always attempt to paint that compelling picture on the minds of your citizens and customers.

In 2006, a journalist attempted to show the power of storytelling. He bought 200 random insignificant items off the internet, spending a total of $198. He then contacted and then sent the 200 items to 200 different writers, authors and publishers asking them to write an emotional appeal or story about the object that was sent to them. After getting the stories back, he then went back on the Internet, promoting and marketing those same 200 items. This time however, he attached the compelling and emotional connections described by 200 different authors along with the previously random and insignificant items.  Those 200 items sold for over $8000, or about a 4000% profit.

Storytelling matters, it matters a lot. What is the story that your business or community is selling and telling? What is the emotional appeal that you are providing to your citizens, potential citizens, and potential customers? To transform to the fullest, you must have a story that connects emotionally.  A story that not only transforms the community, but also transforms the thinking of those in the community. After all, what is a community without its citizens? It has been said, the condition of your downtown becomes the condition of your community. You can’t change the heart and soul of the community without changing the heart and soul of those people that live in the community. You must help the citizens build the belief they are worthy of more than currently exists. You must instill the pride that is needed to assure powerful transformation.

Have you ever wondered why some communities seem to always get it right or just seem to figure it out, while others seem to wander aimlessly from study to study and from failed attempt to failed attempt?  It isn’t by accident; it is by a lack of direction. They don’t confuse activity for productivity, and they have a plan.  Zig Zigler rightfully said, “Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have 24-hour days.”

It doesn’t stop there however, once you have built the compelling and emotional story that connects to readers, viewers, and so forth, then you must attach the theme of that story to everything you do.  That story becomes a part of your brand, it becomes a part of everything you do. That theme is then woven through your brand, your marketing, your advertising, and all your content marketing efforts.

Let me use the words of others much smarter than I to close this week’s column. Seth Godin said, “A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.” As you build and convey your community or business brand, you can expect just as Howard Schultz expressed, “If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.”  It is so important that a community or business control the message that is not only conveyed, but that is felt in the marketplace. Scott Cook said, “A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is—it is what consumers tell each other it is.”

A community MUST build, promote, and repeatedly convey their brand non-stop. They must tell the story that controls the narrative of their community. If you aren’t conveying a message that brands and promotes your community or business, rest assured that your competitors are.  Oftentimes the difference between successful communities or businesses and those not as successful is their story. Emotional connections are critical, create your emotional connection and start elevating toward a brighter future.

John Newby is a nationally recognized Columnist, Publisher, Community, Business, Media, Strategic Consultant & Speaker. His “Building Main Street, not Wall Street,” column is enjoyed by 60+ communities around the country. As founder of Truly-Local, he assists community and business leaders in building synergies that create vibrant communities. He can be reached at:

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