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By Thomas Baekdal - January 2014

The story will not be over until you win

If you think back to the best book you have ever read, you can pretty much categorize its wonderfulness to two key elements:

  1. It was a deeply personal journey. You laughed and you cried as you hoped and dreamed for the character to succeed. You tensed up and even felt despair when things seemed to go wrong. It wasn't just a story. It was a feeling.
  2. You started to identify with the main character. Instead of just being a story, it slowly turned into a 'what if'. What if that was me. What if the world was this way. What if we could do this in the future. What if...

This fueled your dreams and desires. It left you wanting to do better.

And the effect that these elements have on you is astonishing because it gives meaning to everything else that you do.

Let me give you a simple example of this. Below is the ending scene of Assassin's Creed IV (spoiler warning). It's one of the best story-based games ever made.


If you haven't played this game, watching the video doesn't feel that special. You don't have the connection with the journey these characters have endured, nor the personal feeling of dreaming that you could be one of them. It's just a video of a woman singing, and some ship coming into port with a passenger.

But when I see this video, I almost feel like crying. In fact, I don't even have to see the video, I can just listen to the song over at Spotify ( ...and I get all moody.

The reason I'm telling you this, is that I always wonder why brands rarely do this. We see the ad campaigns that are supposed to be funny and viral. We see the web shops that are beautifully designed but is only about the product. And we see the social media profiles that are all about tactics.

None of that includes these two elements of being exposed to a personal journey, nor the feeling of "what if...". It's just yet another brand, with yet another product.

But think of the song I linked to above. If you don't feel that it connects you to a story, it's just a song. What makes it special is that connection.

Now imagine if that song was like your product or your brand. For people who aren't connected to it, it's just a product ... it might look nice, but it doesn't feel special.

But if you open yourself up, if you allow yourself to be vulnerable and invite people to be a part of your journey, you make people feel connected. And, even if you don't make any changes to your product, people will suddenly feel that it's worth much more than before.

So what's your story? I don't mean your marketing story, I mean your real story. The real you!

And remember, the best stories are not the ones where the hero just wins. The best stories are the ones where the hero almost fails, but manages to fight her way through the many obstacles in her path.

People want to feel your journey... not just clap when you win. We want to see that it's hard. We want to see that you are just like the rest of us. But we also want to see how you use your passion and devotion to make what you do 'unique'.

That's what makes us follow you. We want to connect with who you truly are, we want to feel your journey, but we also want to know that the story will not be over until you win!


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Thomas Baekdal

Founder, media analyst, author, and publisher. Follow on Twitter

"Thomas Baekdal is one of Scandinavia's most sought-after experts in the digitization of media companies. He has made ​​himself known for his analysis of how digitization has changed the way we consume media."
Swedish business magazine, Resumé


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