Saturday, February 27, 2010

Telling a Story to Build Brand: The Brady Bunch Had It Right

The other night when we were driving back home from appointments in the city, we started singing. Now you might not know this, but I do have a tendency to sing in the car, particularly on trips over an hour. There are several reasons why I like to do this, several of which, as you will see, are tied into my inner marketing guru:

1. for some reason, the acoustics are particularly good in my Mazda 323 and my somewhat thin voice gets amplified to almost a Joni Mitchell-esque quality (OK, I said almost...)

2. it amazes me how without thinking about it, almost instantaneously, I remember all the lyrics from the introduction to "The Beverly Hillbillies," "Petticoat Junction," "The Patty Duke Show," "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," and a slew of others, as if I had only watched them yesterday. I remember the lyrics even more then words I had to memorize in school, like poems, or lines from a play, recipes, and even directions and passwords.

3. it amazes me that not only do I remember the words, but I remember every nuance of the tunes, and the images that went with them. For example, the tiny Minnow getting tossed at sea; the beloved Brady kids affirming each other from their hip media grid; Bill Bixby and his son (who was that guy again?) having meaningful beach walks to the tune (people let me tell you bout my best friend/he's a warm hearted person who'll love me till the end.)



4. it amazes me that the memory of the song inevitably leads to the memory of a specific episode, and some rather strong emotion tied into it, and then my husband and I are off recollecting, in rapid succession, the Brady's Hawaiian vacation; the way Mary Richards would wash her hair on Saturday nights; Laurie Partridge running for homecoming queen, just so she can make a point about women's rights, etc.

5. it amazes me that within a matter of seconds, the tag line, or pitch, is clear, and we get it: Get Happy...That's the Way We Became...You're Gonna Make It On Your Own...He's My Best Friend...Swimming Pools, Movie Stars...

So, when businesses are sometimes struggling to find their voice and branding, it's helpful to keep these old sitcom themes in mind. It's no wonder, for starters, that so many beginning bloggers are advised to tell their story and what's unique about them. Why? It makes them stand out, and it makes their brand "sticky."

It's also no wonder that those starting out or changing their business, should seek out tag lines that are resonant, catchy, and evocative. I recently attended a business seminar where participants had to recite their elevator pitches on stage, and in a roomful of about 100 people, over half of them had the worst time succinctly giving their pitch, in a way that was catchy, convincing, and clear.

I'm thinking my advice to them might be: go home and watch tv. The oldies station. Make sure your inner marketing guru is tuned in. And if you don't want to go back to the 60's or 70's, an episode of "Friends" will do. I'll be there for you has kind of a nice ring to it, don't you think?

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