Monday, February 9, 2009

10 steps to build a brand story

  1. Find a need. Take the need to educate and combine it with need to feed the hungry.
  2. Approach like-minded people. Find a pile of sponsors who share both those values.
  3. Secure funding. Have them purchase thousands of bags of rice as their sponsorship.
  4. Work on the mechanics. Take all you know, your need, and your funding a build a model to fulfill the need(educate and help the hungry).
  5. Deliver an experience. Build a database of trivia questions, covering all major areas of education. Then build a really great website that's easy to use, easy to find, and provides the greatest payoff the more people use it. Associate a story, a payoff, and reach out to like-minded communities/people.
  6. Find people who want to be a part of something.
  7. Give them the opportunity to make a difference.
  8. Make it worth it. Reward them for their efforts.
  9. Sharing is everything. Encourage them to share the feeling of being part of something.
  10. Execute. Show your sponsors and your people how together everyone has indeed been a part of something and together they have made a difference.
In case you haven't figured it out - these steps reflect FreeRice.com. An amazing story about 37 billion grains of rice going to those who need it while including thousands of people as participants in the charitable process. A win-win situation. You answer educational questions correctly and you get smarter. For every question you answer correctly we'll give some rice to a deserving person.

But that's just half the story. The really interesting twist is that FreeRice.com didn't have to go through the effort to build an experience. It could have been just another NPO that helps the hungry. In this case, I think that most of the rice is paid for in advance - so its already going to the hungry regardless of people participating. The real marketing comes from how FreeRice.com packages up the experience. It added value on both ends of the process by changing the context from we're feeding the hungry so pay attention to you can make a difference, be a part of something bigger and be rewarded.

FreeRice.com recognized that there are millions of people who want to help but don't. There is a whole generation who want to be involved, but need that first push. FreeRice took two simple ideas (education and charity) and made it a story - a true experience that engages the participant and creates a sense of action and community.

There are lots of brands that could easily survive by just doing what they do - by showing people how they do it or telling them about the brands progress. The brands will win bring people into the process. They invite participation. They look to serve a community of individuals with similar values who are as excited about the brand as they are. They focus on making the story interesting rather than the process. Everything is people/consumer facing.

Doing what you do best is easy. Making what you do best interesting enough for people to talk about is tough.

Martin offers a great post on experience marketing and connecting people to something bigger. It's not charity - but it's still emotion.