STORY TELLING- THE MYTHS AND TRUTHS OF A BRAND

 

What is myth and what is truth? When does myth become truth and do we simply accept myth because it is all we know? These are some of the questions answered in todays lecture discussing how via story telling a brand is able to create a desired mindshare in the hearts and minds of its consumers and ensure their values and beliefs are taken on by the consumer in the most believable way.

A story can ensure that how brands are spoken about in society is as close to how they would speak about themselves. However, as we all know stories tend to quickly feel the effects of so called ‘Chinese whispers’. What is said by one person is distorted, exaggerated and/or completely changed as it travel to the next and so on. So how then do we really know the truth about a brand? Isn’t it all just a matter of opinion or do we just choose to hear what we want to believe?

Perhaps I am too close to the subject. I live and breath branding, from critically analysing adverts whilst I’m watching tv, to reading books and ultimately studying for this degree and pursuing my career and I certainly felt the strain of this closeness in todays lecture. Whilst I love to believe that the stories told and decisions taken by brands are genuine, I know deep down that they are a business and they can only tell these stories through avenues that require financial aid. That aid coming from consumers buying their products. The question I am really asking in the post then goes as follows: Is it all just to show they have the right morals?

Unfortunately, as we know, in this discriminative world, racism, sexism and poverty (amongst many others) exist. Does a brand therefore feel morally obliged to highlight their attempt to consider these issues and does that then make it a publicity stunt to show that they “care”. Consequently we then buy into this movement, expressing our happiness that a random product such as a detergent, for example, is not racially discriminating so in our own attempt to adhere to morals we buy the detergent.

During the discussion we looked at several brands where they have purposely chosen to use an array of different type of models. For example the Boots campaign released in 2007 demonstrates how “for the price of one supermodel we got 7 real women.” The No.7 tailoring makeup campaign aimed to highlight, through no retouching or air brushing, how the products worked for everyday women who don’t sit around being pampered all day. A nice idea as far as the, keeping it real, stories goes this advert is truthful, relatable and  heart warming. However, the fact that these “real” (seemingly randomly selected) women happen to come from an array of different ethnical backgrounds suggests to me that Boots were trying to cover their backs from racial discrimination as much as proving the products do what they say.

Its not just Boots either. Take United Colours of Benetton, in their 1991 campaign. This heavily art directed image seems forced and unconventional and whilst it was ground breaking in highlighting issues of equality within fashion I personally find it difficult to suggest the brand cares more about the issue than being deemed as racist.

Rightly or wrongly, I understand my views on this topic are slightly warped given my profession and I am by no means trying to suggest the work brands put in to raise awareness is unjust. I just question whether there is a better, more fluid, way to go about it.