Once Upon a Brand: Walt Disney, Barak Obama and Your Professional Services Brand

My recent post on the importance of storytelling to marketing your professional services firm raised an important point that deserves more attention: the importance of using your stories to define your brand. The stories you tell, and the stories that are told about you, define and communicate who you are. Let me give you a couple of examples.

Walt Disney stories defined the Disney brand: family-friendly fare with a happy ending. It's what people have come to expect. In marketing jargon, it has become the Disney brand promise.

Then there is President Obama. During the heat of the election we discussed the battle of the brands between Barack Obama and John McCain. However you feel about his policies, you can probably agree that he has quite a story to tell.

Setting aside Obama's extraordinary communication skills, his campaign was built around his personal story. By now it has been so often repeated in so many forms by so many people that I would venture to say that most of us can fill in the details. From the 4:00 am study sessions with his single mom to his days as a community organizer, we feel like we know him because we know the story.

Now think about most professional services firms. What are their stories? What can you expect from an accounting firm or an IT consultant? Hard to know, right?

Professional services buyers often complain that all firms sound alike. Their websites look similar and use similar jargon. The situation is both confusing and forgettable.

But people remember the stories — whether they are stories told by the firm itself, or stories told about the firm by someone else.

My advice? If you want to control your brand, you better be telling your own stories. If you don't, you just might be defined by Joe the Plumber.


Author: Lee Frederiksen, Ph.D. Who wears the boots in our office? That would be Lee, our managing partner, who suits up in a pair of cowboy boots every day and drives strategy and research for our clients. With a Ph.D. in behavioral psychology, Lee is a former researcher and tenured professor at Virginia Tech, where he became a national authority on organizational behavior management and marketing. He left academia to start up and run three high-growth companies, including an $80 million runaway success story.

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