Thursday, March 22, 2018

Using personal stories to sell

Read Time: 2 minutes

Back in my Leonhardt Group days, when I was selling brand design, I often used personal experiences to help our clients understand the power of our work. Stories, I found, could breathe life into what was otherwise is a pretty dry subject. Design, is of tremendous interest to designers, but most clients don’t find the discussion of the imagery, that communicates brand messages quite so engaging. So I used short personal stories to illustrate the power brand design had to connect on an emotional level. I used stories to describe how brand design made people feel. Stories that showed how design invoked emotional attributes that are the foundation of all great brands.

I tried to use experiences that might be similar to their own. Experiences that are warm, human and inviting. Experiences that teach by example. Using these experiences, I found is far more effective than describing process or reciting case studies.

Here’s one of my favorites:

It was a beautiful summer beginning. A light breeze. Bored, I slipped out of the house and wandered up the street. School had been out for a few days, maybe a week. Not long enough to slip into a summer routine. With nothing to do and idleness on my mind I headed to the corner store. The neighbor’s dog trotted along with me. I was about eight.

There was a group of the big boys sitting on the steps in the sun talking, chewing Double Bubble and drinking Coke. One of them handed me a Coke and moved over so I could sit and join the group. I felt like I’d been accepted into the secret inner society of men.

My love of Coke the brand cemented on that day. Coke became a symbol of summer companionship, acceptance, maybe even love. Sugary soft drinks were not allowed in my house making the impact of the taste and the moment that much more powerful. I don’t expect that it was my first sip, but it was a taste of a special kind of power; the power of being part of the gang.

I don’t order a Coke often. But when I do, I remember that beautiful day when Coke came to mean so much to me.

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