How to Amplify the Pain in Your Brand Story



Brand Story

I took a deep breath before swiping my credit card at Neiman’s for a $200 jar of Créme De La Mer.

I was 20 years old with splurges such as this funded solely by AMEX, and not by my own financial merit. That was beside the point. I needed this face cream. I wanted forever flawless skin and this was the answer. Plus, it worked for Max so it would work for me.

.     .     .

Max, or Dr. Huber was an aerospace scientist who suffered a horrific accident – a routine experiment exploded in his face, covering him with severe chemical burns. The depiction of this tragedy – an image of a man in a white lab coat standing across from two mixing pots struggling to make sense of the life-changing explosion that not even the best scientists would have a cosmetic cure for – appeared on the front page of the La Mer website.

Here was someone who did nothing other than his job that day, now having to go out into the world with an unrecognizable profile, a face that would scare those around him, and a promise from the pedigreed medical community that nothing could be done. I imagined what life would be like if my friends no longer associated with me, if I got ugly glares everywhere I went, and how it would feel to miss out on opportunities my entire life because of a wretchedly burned complexion. I felt Max’s pain.

.     .     .

Twelve years and 6,000 more experiments later, Max perfected his own healing solution – one that would smooth his scars over and allow him to re-enter society normally. It would fuel the beginning of a luxury skincare brand that attached a justifiably high price tag to this “miracle broth” in a jar – a $200 jar I had convinced myself that I needed.

I’m an Image Caption ready-to-use.

Photo: Project Vanity

Story sold me.

La Mer didn’t tout its difficult-to-extract ingredients, its slow harvesting process, or even the celebrities who used the products. Instead, they amplified the physical and emotional pain of a scientist who desperately needed a skincare solution. Max’s transformative story remained the lead narrative with La Mer for years and helped position the brand as a premier leader in the luxury skincare market. To this day, I’m convinced that the empathy I felt from this story of tragedy and triumph is what ultimately led my purchase decision.

“It’s not enough to highlight features and benefits in your marketing. In today’s crowded marketplace, you have to do more.”

Who’s your Max?

It’s not enough to highlight features and benefits in your marketing.  In today’s crowded marketplace, you have to do more. That includes uncovering your customers’ pain points and amplifying them. Visualize them in your communications. Bring them to focus in your messaging and describe what life would be like without a solution. Without your solution. The only thing then left to do is heal the wound. That’s where brand, products and services enter. Story first. Sell second.

Written by: Amber Williams

Master Brand Storyteller & Founder of PunkyFlair

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