Good Article About The Art And Power Of Story Telling
On: September 13, 2013

Tomorrow’s Products & Companies Will Live Or Die By Their Stories

Harvard Business School marketing professor Theodore Levitt famously said, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole.” Levitt, a revered marketer who popularized the term “globalization”, among other things, advocated for businesses to focus on what customers want, not on what business wants.

In the last two weeks, we witnessed large, anticipated product launches by Samsung and Apple (Galaxy Watch and the iPhone 5s and 5c). Did you notice that the presentation format was almost exactly the same? In fact, most big tech launches today—from Microsoft to Facebook—mimic the now iconic Steve Jobs keynote setup: gigantic black screen, tiny individual presenter wearing a casual, expected outfit (whether a turtleneck or hoodie, but almost always including jeans). The presenter walks the crowd through the product demo, not by simply enumerating features, but by taking them on a journey, telling the story of the product and, step-by-step, exploring it together.

As I’ve said before, storytelling is perhaps the most important skill a 21st century business can develop. This is certainly the case with marketing — stories build deep relationships with audiences in ways advertisements don’t and coupons nigh can’t. But it’s also the case with product.

That’s because today people don’t want a drill — or a t-shirt or carton of eggs or television set — they want to know where that drill came from, how it came about, and what the drill-maker is going to do with the money they’re about to pay it.

Not all people, of course, but increasing numbers of them.

I don’t think that companies are going to last thinking that their products just need to be functional.”

“I don’t think that companies are going to last thinking that their products just need to be functional,” says Michael Lebowitz, founder and CEO of innovation agency Big Spaceship. Products that “really communicate,” he says, need to “have the narrative and behavior of the brand.”

This is why we’re seeing a rash of mission- and story-driven brands emerge today. Whereas the hippie-dippie Whole Foods and planet-saving Ethos Water style of “conscious” brand used to be the outlier, today’s emerging brands are seeing mission as a must and story as a means of conveying the difference.

If you want to read the full article by Shane Snow please click here.