It’s not often that a speaker walks the MIMA stage clutching an American Girl Doll, but for Wednesday’s presenter Darren (Daz) McColl, it was the perfect analogy for the changing relationship between consumer and branded content. Today’s consumer doesn’t want to be told a story, they want to become part of the story, explained McColl, the global director of strategy for SapientNitro.
“The first American Girl doll [a child] gets usually looks just like them,” McColl explained. “It’s creating a mini-me. You’ve become the brand and the brand becomes you.”
Stories are not only helpful to engage consumers, it also helps them remember. When consumers are given a story, the human brain tends to not only consume this information but also learn it, McColl explained, so activating our memories helps us retain a brand message. If brands can create environments in which we can become apart of the story, consumers are more likely to bond with the brand.
Companies like American Girl Doll – and Red Bull – have become successful at “storyscaping,” which involves creating a world of experiences where engagements connect to each other and become part of the consumer’s own story. This big idea thinking really benefits from a visual to help explain it, but the key idea flies in the face of marketing funnels because they’re too linear as a model. Storyscaping is built on the idea that a brand should create multiple touchpoints with which to engage and their collective impact will help drive action.
“Everything should end with a comma; everything we do should be the start of something else,” McColl said.
McColl also echoed the importance of having an organizing idea – an active statement that defines what the brand must do in order to change consumer behavior. As an example, he noted that Red Bull’s organizing idea goes beyond their tagline – they change consumer behavior by giving wings to people and ideas. That’s the tie-in to the Crashed Ice event, Flugtag and even the 2012 Stratos event that saw a skydiver climb 23 miles above the ground before breaking the sound barrier as he plummeted back to Earth.
Check out the full video of Daz’s presentation.