August 3rd, 2011
Narrativity: [nar-uh-tiv-uh-tee]: 1.) the degree to which your brand spunk, funk, credibility, attitude, and vibe shines through your messaging. 2.) Your voice, your verbiage, your tone.
While preparing for a wine-touring camping trip to Watkins Glen, I began perusing the websites of the nearby Seneca Lake wineries and plotting my prioritized must-see, must-visit list for the alcohol-inspired excursion. I was frustrated to find that, with a mere handful of exceptions, every winery’s website looked and sounded the same, and they all lacked personality, pizzazz, and panache. Armed with an adventurous spirit, I finally gave up pre-planning my wine trail route, and decided to wing the whole experience. I visited several wineries I liked, several I very much didn’t, and I couldn’t help but wonder if I’d accidentally by chance driven right past my dream winery and missed my one chance at true varietal bliss.
If every brand looks and sounds the same, has same perspective, purpose, product, it doesn’t matter which winery you visit or which brand you choose. The one is as good as the other, and if you’ve had one you’ve had them all. If you’re distinct, worthy of note, and you hide behind the same humdrum look, feel, sound, and practice as everyone else, no one will ever know you’re worthy of their time or attention. When everyone is just a different shade of beige, popped from the same drone mold, we’re all being robbed of an opportunity for preference and our worlds all have a little less color in them. Boring is thievery by complacency.
Narrativity is one of the ways bold brands with a story to tell differentiate their experience, brighten their color spectrum, and tell their too-good-for-boring tale. Your brand’s story is made up of your brand’s real-life, day to day, actions, decisions, products, events, partnerships, sponsors. It’s who you are, how you work, what you do, and why you do it. Narrativity is the voice, tone, and verbiage you use to tell that vivid, appealing, authentic story. Narrativity is like a person’s distinct vocabulary and speech pattern. It’s the words and phrases you own, and it’s what makes you sound like you, instead of just like everybody else.
Here are a few examples of vibrant, saucy brands that have high degree of Narrativity:
Urban Daddy: A racy, random, irreverent city guide for liquor drinking, women loving, wannabe jet owning, good humored James Bond types the world over. After reading an article or three from Urban Daddy, you and your grandmother could both pick their work out of a line up blind-folded (if it was being read aloud).
Harley-Davidson: Harley doesn’t sell motorcycles, they sell freedom, self-expression, great escapes, and the open road. Harley’s “grab life by the bars”, “leave well enough behind”, “out to free the world” attitude is captured in and on everything from their advertisements to their annual reports.
Kraken Rum: This edge-of-the-world nautical brand is steeped in legend and only distilled for the fearless, seafaring, adventuring, unshaven at spirit. Once you’ve heard a Kraken ad, you can’t help but read the Kraken bottle and the Kraken story using their narrator’s speech pattern- it’s that alluring and distinctive. Kraken’s tone is so consistently conveyed with such a distinctive verve that their narrator’s voice and their content’s verbiage isn’t ever separate from the story, it’s part of their story.
For a sneak peek at Kraken’s vivid storytelling in action, check out their tale of the man-eating, ship-wreaking, sea-monster The Kraken, via their website.
Coffee Fool: Coffee Fool comes with a warning: their coffee is so fresh and delicious, everything else will taste bland and stale in comparison. What the warning doesn’t mention is that everything’ll look and sound bland in comparison as well. While other coffee roasters talk in coffee-speak about notes and tones and soils and geographies, these guys have a style all their own…. An example: the description for their only-brewed-on-Fridays flavor, Vanillamykahlua, proclaims it: “Tastes just like it sounds, with a little Hawaiian rumble in the jungle.” And the description for their knock-your-socks off bacon-flavored brew: “If everything tastes better with bacon, then why not coffee too? Our bacon flavor is not just roasted – it’s spit roasted. It’s so aromatic, you’ll be instant friends with your work colleagues and … any neighborhood dogs.”