What is the myth, brand storytelling: the legend, the narrative that lies in the heart of the brand proposition?
Karl Lagerfeld by Karl Lagerfeld (by Girvin)
I was talking to a client about the concept of legendary culture and it set me thinking to the concept of brands and enterprises that thrive in legendary context.
All of them are legends — and in a way, all of them are the founding nexus of a brand. Brand being story + enterprise, fire and commitment, aligned in presumed, passionate commerce.
The idea of legend is a string that’s worth exploring. And the notion of cult and culture is yet another additive to the equation. Still further, the notion of mythology.
Combining them, we reach to the sentiment of the myth. And in each of the persona represented above, you might consider a nearly mythic stature to the rippling of their ideas — and the stories that emanate from them.
Look at the words:
Cult + worship: Fr. culte (17c.), from L. cultus“care, labor; cultivation, culture; worship, reverence,” originally “tended, cultivated,” pp. ofcolere “to till” (see colony settler in a new land, itinerant). Rare after 17c.; revived mid-19c. with reference to ancient or primitive rituals. Meaning “devotion to a person or thing” is from 1829.
Legend + story: O.Fr. legende (12c.), from M.L. legenda “legend, story,” lit. “(things) to be read,” on certain days in church, etc., from neuter plural gerundive of L. legere “to read, gather, select” (see lecture that which is read — “to gather, collect, pick out, choose”). Used originally of saints’ lives; extended sense of “nonhistorical or mythical story” first recorded 1610s. Meaning “writing or inscription” (especially on a coin or medal) is from 1610s; on a map, illustration, etc., from 1903.
Myth + speech: Gk. mythos “speech, thought, story, myth,” of unknown origin.
Myths are “stories about divine beings, generally arranged in a coherent system; they are revered as true and sacred; they are endorsed by rulers and priests; and closely linked to religion. Once this link is broken, and the actors in the story are not regarded as gods but as human heroes, giants or fairies, it is no longer a myth but a folktale. Where the central actor is divine but the story is trivial … the result is religious legend, not myth.” [J. Simpson & S. Roud, “Dictionary of English Folklore,” Oxford, 2000, p.254]
What this framing might suggest is the link between the powerful connections of the story, the sequences in the telling of it, and building on the legendary and mythic spirit of how the power and compelling attraction of the tale well told will be recounted and shared. So in building the propositions of legendary culture — the link between cultivation and legendary experience, the seminal influence lies in the spirit of leadership. Who’s at the center? Who’s driving the brand story? As with leaders — it’s just that: who’s in front? Who’s leading?
Where’s the inspiration?
Spirit, in the context of legend, is at the very heart of the proposition. What inspires? That concert of leadership, relationship, personality, storytelling — and brand — these elements all adhere to glue these components together. Great stories.
While the stories of Apple’s Jobs, Chanel’s Lagerfeld, Vogue’s Wintour and Eastwood’s Eastwood are rich in the rich of long-running myth making, it’s possible to eschew an attitude of cultivating, pardon the allusion, the notion of the legendary cultural positioning and brand storytelling propositioning.
I was linking with a friend, the founder of Gilt group, Alexandra Wilkis, and I noted the reference to the notion of the “backstory.”
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This concept of the story deepens the mythic dimensions, backgrounding the character of the brand — it becomes more than merely “another scent in a bottle.”
Is there legend here, culture in the markings of the brand telling? There might be a legacy that can be deepened in the heritage, but even a superficial presumption adds depth to the narrative for Field & Stream, founded 1871 — reach back, reach forward.
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Within every mountain town, there is a geographical passion that stems from the surroundings and seasons. As the mercury rises and the jackets are put away, the vibe shifts from winter survival to everything outdoors. Drift boats are uncovered; fly rods are cleaned and bar patios are swept.
Summer time in the mountains is rejuvenating; the music gets a little louder, the sun feels better. And the fish are hungry. Get wet, stay out all day and have a beer with the boys..It’s Summer!
The point to legend is relationship — and can you — can the audience, relate?It’s all about the story, and how it’s told, how consistently the legend is managed, and how authentic is that legacy?
Let the truth, and the story, be told.
Brand storytelling is a legacy for Girvin. We write about it, we practice it and it’s a message that we’ve been evolving for decades, more to read on the strategies of brand resonance and storytelling, here.
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