How to “Amplify the Pain” in Your Brand Story

How to Amplify the Pain in Your Brand Story

1

SEPTEMBER, 2017

Branding
Brand Story
Strategy

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

Want to take your brand to the next level?
Get on the list.

Harnessing The Power of Connection to Build an Iconic American Brand

Harnessing the Power of Connection to Build an Iconic American Brand

28

AUGUST, 2017

Branding
Brand Story
Legends

In 2010, I did something I thought I’d never do – abandon all control and ride on a motorcycle.

That summer, I was completing my graduate residency at one of the top advertising agencies in the world — FCB. As a brand planner, my job was to get inside the minds of my clients’ consumers (and their competitors) and craft strategies to help move their brands forward. I took an unspoken oath to be authentic, to represent the true voice of the customer, and to strategize in a way that kept brands good on their promises. When I was assigned to the Volkswagen account, I immediately immersed myself into global driving cultures — specifically for cult brands like VW. I needed to understand why and how people could have such strong emotional connections to their vehicles.

One day on my lunch, I walked along Erie Street until I reached the corner of Michigan Avenue where the Harley Davidson store was located. It doesn’t get any more “cult-ish” than Harley, I thought. I stood and stared for a few minutes before a middle-aged man with roughly trimmed facial hair and an American flag bandana very poignantly asked me:

“You ride?”

I’m guessing my baby blue cropped pants, white silk blouse, four-inch heels and oversized tote didn’t necessarily scream “Harley Girl.” His question was warranted. Before reservations of my life ending on a Chicago city street could settle in, I answered him:

“No, but I’d like to try.”

I’m an Image Caption ready-to-use.

Photograph by Lorem Ipsum via Unsplash

He tossed me his helmet and granted my wish. Within seconds, I felt the indescribable thrill of what Harley riders coveted so much: the journey.   It didn’t take me long to figure out what Harley Davidson’s key selling point was or why its customers had such strong emotional connections to the brand. It was that feeling. It was the same feeling that made me abandon all good sense, a recollection of the amount of minutes I had left on my lunch, and even my own safety. I cared about none of it. In the 15 minutes of our ride, I understood more about branding and marketing than any class could have ever taught me.

“Great marketing is all about connecting two stories together: that of the brand and that of the customer.”

Because Harley did this — connected the stories of their riders to the ideals of the brand — they became more than just a motorcycle company; they became one of the most iconic American brands of our time. Today, I still count myself as fortunate to have experienced this connection, if only for 15 minutes.

Written by: Amber Williams

Master Brand Storyteller & Founder of PunkyFlair

Want to take your brand to the next level?
Get on the list.