Is It Time for a Chief Brand Storyteller?

This great presentation on content marketing and storytelling by Jonathan Crossfield got me thinking. What is it about brands, storytelling and technology that we continue to struggle with – and why is this struggle so pervasive?

Now, I see a lot of content marketing every day. There are newsletters, infographics and blog posts. Sometimes there are videos. Podcasts. Quizzes. Surveys. The variety is rich … but the quality? Well, often the quality leaves much to be desired.

Who can we blame?

Content marketing – like all marketing – has many masters. There are the internal subject matter experts to please. The brand and reputation folks to appease. And let’s not even bring up compliance/corporate affairs. Or Legal. Imagine having to include them!? Then there are the representatives from sales, product, engineering and finance – after all, someone has to pay for this.

Eventually, someone will create the brief and the creative process will kick in. It could be internally created or pushed out to an agency. There will be drafts, revisions and feedback. There will be interpretation.

And then one day there will be an approval … and your content marketing baby will be pushed out into the world. Will it work? Will it deliver a bounty?

Too often our marketing efforts end up a pale imitation of the original idea. After review upon review, interpretation upon interpretation, much of the spark and energy is lost.[Tweet “Too often our marketing efforts end up a pale imitation of the original idea.”]

It makes me think that we need a new custodian. A Chief Brand Storyteller (CBS). Someone who ensures that the story we want, need and should tell, remains intact. The CBS would:

  • Prioritise our audiences over our processes
  • Reclaim our business narratives from the tyrannies of product form and function
  • Remind us that our purpose is to serve customers, guide them, delight and surprise them.

And the CBS would also have an important technology role. So many of our brand and business narratives are generated, delivered and amplified through technology – and this impacts the story and the storytelling. The CBS needs to help brands re-imagine storytelling for our times. And this may, perhaps, be the most important aspect.

One comment

  1. Fantastic point. And thanks for plugging my Slideshare.

    The biggest threat to brands telling great, consistent and customer-centric stories is the siloed nature of so many businesses, as you’ve suggested. Can you imagine if a novel were written by a committee, most of whom aren’t writers?

    My first thought was whether a brand would trust a single person to shape that narrative, ’cause the role would by definition need to overrule anything that contradicted the story. It would potentially be a very powerful position with a huge power of veto across all comms at virtually every level of the business.

    But then Brand Managers are already entrusted with the visual look and feel as well as the brand-centric story of a business. So a CBS would be entrusted with the customer-centric story, setting firm guidelines and processes to keep everthing aligned.

    Definitely food for thought.