Why Stories Rule the World
Stories make money. I could end this article right here and you’d probably take away the same amount as if you read the whole thing… but you won’t. Why? Because everyone loves a good story.
We’ve grown up with stories of princesses throwing down their hair so princes can rescue them (disclaimer that princesses can also rescue themselves and princesses are also more than capable of rescuing a prince, anyway I’m digressing), stories of ogres and swamps (and funny donkeys), tales of sisters failing out and becoming friends again. We love stories. Maybe that love of stories somehow fell into the business world when telling customers about profit and loss statements got a little taxing, somewhere, someone starting telling the tale of how they ending up here — and that was it. People realised that stories sell, numbers and boring shit, doesn’t.
Most of the biggest brands in the world have a story behind that makes them, well, relatable, understandable — some how stories help us humanise a brand and thus form a connection with it. Once we are connected, that’s it, we are in and therefore more likely to buy.
Ever watched ‘The Founder’ on Netflix? The story of how Ray Croc met two brothers who were passionate about food and processes. They had figured out a way (after much trial and error) to speed up the food making process so that people could order and minutes later they’d get their food. At the time, that was a game-changer for the food industry, Ray Croc (who was selling milkshake makers at the time) was at his wits end. He’d ring and ring numerous different food chains to try and get someone to buy his milkshake machines, and no-one would… until he rang the Dick and Mac McDonald. He was shocked at the number they ordered so he decided to go and see them… that’s the story of McDonalds.
What about the most famous drink in the world? Well that was meant to be some sort of medicine to aid digestion. The chap that invented it was at medical school and had to drop out so became a pharmacist and created the drink that was later known as Pepsi.
Phil Knight was a track runner in high school. He’d had a love of track and continued running into his early career. He struggled to find his fit in the world until he realised that in Japan they made things way cheaper than in the United States, a few meetings and a few deals later Blue Ribbon was born. Oh, not heard of Blue Ribbon? Today it’s know as Nike.
I think, perhaps what makes these stories so interesting and so captivating is that they give you a sense of opportunity. Phil Knight was just a guy trying to find what he wanted to do with his life. Ray Croc was a struggling milkshake seller, Caleb Bradham was a failed medical student turned pharmacist with an idea.
Stories make us normal folk feel like we are capable of absolutely anything — which of course we are but sometimes it takes a great story to shake you out of the mental barriers you put in front of yourself.