Telling Your Brand Story
yourself, you know that one of the ﬁrst sentences you uttered and that you repeated again and again and again was “Can you tell me a story?” And if it was a good story, you wanted to hear it over and over and over. The conventional wisdom is that children crave simple familiarity. But does that alone explain why certain children’s stories have been cherished generation after generation? Or, for that matter, why modern, busy adults will watch It’s a Wonderful Life every year of their own lives, even though they know every turn of the plot? Or why the original Star Wars trilogy or the “Star Trek” TV series developed huge cult followings who watched these movies and shows dozens of times? Or, even more revealing, why the great religions the world over reﬂect the same stories, characters, and themes? Working with Margaret on the analysis of story patterns, Wolansky explained: “Before the invention of writing, stories were passed down from generation to generation as campﬁre, ghost, and bedtime stories. Over time, as stories were told, memorized, and retold, certain stories, ideas, themes, characters, and situations would resonate deeply with listeners and would be saved. Other story details would be found lacking and tossed aside. In ﬁlm terms, these stories had good ‘word of mouth’ over the generations, and ultimately became the enduring, distilled, universally ‘truthful’ fairy tales, legends, and mythological stories that have come down to us today.” Bruno Bettelheim, in The Uses of Enchantment, described the same kind of “sorting process” occurring when children distinguish between very good stories and merely ordinary ones. The child wants to hear a good story over and over again because she intuitively recognizes some deep truth in it; she has a vague feeling that the story has something important to tell her.* The best stories, then, the stories that transcend time and place, are more than simply entertaining—they are in some way useful to us, children and adults alike. They help us work through unconscious pressures and deal with fear, anger, and anxiety, and they lend expression to deep yearnings we are often unable to articulate or even identify. They may be cloaked in quite contemporary dress—and the “delivery system” may be a ﬁlm, a well-told joke, or a 30-second * Bruno Bettelheim, The Uses of Enchantment (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1976).