StoryBranding: A book review by Bob Morris

StoryBrandingStoryBranding: Creating Stand-Out Brands Through The Power of Story
Jim Signorelli
Greenleaf Book Group Press (2013)

A sound introduction to storytelling fundamentals that can help to create or increase demand for whatever you offer for sale

Thanks to Stephen Denning, Eliyahu Goldratt, Patrick Lencioni, Doug Lipman, and Annette Simmons (among others), elements of storytelling have become widely and wisely adopted by business leaders and then effectively applied in all manner of formal presentations as well as during informal conversations. The given issues are addressed, usually in terms of When, Where, Who, What, and Why (in response to So what?) as the narrative introduces setting, characters, conflicts, and themes during a sequent of events (i.e. plot) that leads to a resolution or affirmation (i.e. climax). It is no coincidence that throughout history, all of the greatest leaders were great storytellers. Whatever the given situation, they anchored their visions, values, and calls to action within a human context.

As the title of my review indicates, I think that, in StoryBranding, Jim Signorelli, provides a sound introduction to storytelling fundamentals relevant to branding. There are no head-snapping revelations, nor does he make any such claim. The material is presented within three Parts: First, he introduces core concepts, then provides his Six-Step StoryBranding Process by which to articulate the given brand’s “message,” and then in Part III, explains how to measure (at least to some extent) the nature and extent of that message’s resonance or impact. Readers will appreciate the provision of a “Review” section at the conclusion of Chapters 2-21 and this reader certainly would have appreciated an Index. Presumably one will be added if and when there is another edition.

Signorelli acknowledges the great challenges of a brand’s multi-dimensional alignment between and among the sellers, buyers, prospects, and those who comprise a circle of influence (e.g. reviews such as this one featured by Amazon and social media evaluations) as well as between and among their expectations, perceptions, delusions, misinformation, values, concerns, and realities. He observes, “For any brand, the ideal match is one where there is alignment between the brand’s and the prospect’s inner and outer layer cells.” That is, when a brand fulfills (if not exceeds) expectations, even those that are subconscious.

Emanuel Rosen was among the first (in The Anatomy of Buzz, 2000) to shed a great deal of light on the power of word-of-mouth marketing and duly notes that “bad” buzz travels even faster (in my experience, a LOT faster) than “good” buzz does. That explains why there will always be (for better or worse) an alignment of the band’s promise (its story, well told) and its performance. Long ago, John Hill (founder of Hill & Knowlton) defined public relations as “truth well-told.” You better have what Jim Signorelli characterizes as a “standout brand” or its story, however well-told, will be at best untrue, if not a lie.

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