Burn The Ships!
I burned all my ships. My entire business. My brand. After 20 years of developing brand identity in the image of many of the global brand agencies I’ve worked with—it was time for radical action. After reading on, you might well consider doing likewise with your own brand.
In 1519, Captain Hernán Cortés arrived in Veracruz to begin his great conquest. Upon landing, he abruptly ordered his men to, “Burn the ships!” Someone then laughed and Cortés promptly thrust his sword through the man’s chest. Everyone else proceeded to get hammered on rum by the glow of the blaze.
Cortés forced himself and his men to either succeed or die. Retreat was not an option. To truly achieve the level of success we each desire, there are times when we need to burn the ships.
The Adventure Begins
Romantic rises from the ashes of a blaze I purposely set on fire. The traditional agency models and brand models fall way short of the full potential that companies and their agencies are capable of. Knowing better ways must exist to build prosperous brands, I spent the past several years passionately seeking enlightenment and crafting the tools for setting brands on fire—in a humanistic and romantic way.
Branding as a whole tends to fail companies and their audiences for a variety of reasons. Two top offenders are that brands are both overly complex and also very boring. The third important reason is that companies are disingenuous to the extent that brands don’t actually fulfill their promises or purpose. Ironically, as it turns out, defining and fulfilling a brand purpose produces the most amazing ROI on tangible and intangible levels. The dilemma is understandable, because most companies simply don’t know how to do it, and their agencies generally aren’t helping.
What is that enlightened path? First, burn all of your ships—everything you thought you knew about branding—and then base your brand and your entire business on an epic story that moves hearts, minds and actions. That’s how you will frame your entire organization, its actions, business choices, culture and messaging. That’s how you will get people to do flips and twists to be part of your vision and the branded ecosystem that story affords.
Brand storytelling begins with a core purpose of the vision that you’re trying to achieve. That’s your company’s true north, and all your brand stories must follow it—as the essence of your existence. When your stories are easily repeated and shared, you’ve resonated at the deepest level and created a powerful story-based brand.
Brand story is not about spinning a yarn or fairytale. Rather, it’s authoring the adventure of what you can do, be, and become for audiences. Moreover, it charts the unfolding journey you and your customers will value together.
The proof that story works is ubiquitous. From studies on Harvard Business Review showing an average of 2700% increase in brand value—to Romantic client results with ROI as high as 20,000%. Yes, these numbers are correct.
Brand story is the only positioning your company will ever need. Drop me me a line to find out more.
Photography © 2019 Russell Volckmann