Story telling is a powerful communication tool—and brands that are associated with strong stories have a significant advantage over those with weak or forgetable stories. In fact, some brand stories are so ingrained in our culture that they are easily recognized with just a few details. See if you can name this brand:
Brand X got its start when the founder made innovative changes to the soles of his athlete's shoes to help them run faster. The brand was named for an ancient god and over the next two decades was adopted by many internationally known athletes.
In it's more detailed version, it's a story of seeking a competitive advantage, working hard, and achieving a goal. So what brand is it? Would you believe Reebok?
In the 1890s, Joseph William Foster added spikes to the soles of his shoes to help athletes run faster. His company was originally called Mercury Sports. And the brand has been worn enthusiastically by many of the world's best known athletes—most famously the runners of the 1924 Olympic Games featured in the movie, Chariots of Fire.
But if you're like most people, you didn't guess Reebok. You guessed Nike. With good reason.
In the 1960s, Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight added a special waffle pattern to his shoes to help athletes run faster. Their company was named Nike (after the Greek Goddess of Victory) and the brand has been worn by many of the world's best known athletes.
Both companies share oddly similar beginnings. But only one is known for this story. Why?
Nike has embraced the story of innovation and achievement, while Reebok has almost run away from it (despite their 70-year head start). While both companies began with passion for athletic achievement, today only Nike can tell that story. More than forty years later Nike continues to embrace its founding values (examples here, here, and here). And Reebok? Not as much. (Other examples here and here.)
So ask yourself this: is your brand true to its brand story and values? Or are you leaving your most important asset for your competitors to run away with?