Tell me a story so I know your differentiation

By Ken Gasque

If you want your advertising to work, tell a story about your differentiation. Your audience will get the message and remember it.

What does a story do? It creates a movie for your mind’s eye. A good story will be played and replayed in the mind for days, weeks and months to come. You can tell me a story with a simple visual.

Imagine a cowboy, smoking a cigarette, watching a herd of horses being driven. The only copy on the photo is Marlboro Country. Now look at the ad. You fill in the story. He’s self-sufficient, independent, confident, does things his way, likes simple way of life…you view the image and write the story in your mind. The mind creates the story that creates the brand.

The brand development process is about creating a story and telling the story to get the experience.

“You can say the right thing, and nobody will listen,” said Bill Bernbach (a very creative ad man and one of the founding partners of Dole Dane Bernbach). “But you’ve got to say it in such a way that people will feel it. Dole Dane Bernbach created an ad campaign for Volkswagen, which became a classic—“Think small.” The advertising was the exact opposite They used good design and told a story that differentiated VW from the big cars made in Detroit. The advertising was as different to car advertising as the VW was to its competition.

You can tell a story with a photo or illustration.
You don’t have to tell the complete story. Clairol had a tremendous campaign that asked, “Does she, or doesn’t she?” It let the reader fantasize about changing their own hair color at a time when changing your hair col-or was not looked upon favorably. Before we can take action, we have to be able to see ourselves using the product. We have to fantasize, daydream and visualize. If we can see it, we can buy it.


A well told story reveals values without saying, “We’re honest and reputable” or “We off great service.” And do you really believe someone when they tell you they are honest? Didn’t you expect them to be honest and if they have to tell you, don’t you question it? By sharing our stories, we define “who we are” and “what we stand for.”

When telling your story your audience should be able to visualize it. If not, then it is not concrete enough. Make it visual. We buy with our eyes and a story well told will create a vision that the mind can see and remember.

About Ken Gasque
Ken Gasque is a brand image-maker, marketing planner and designer. Ken works with small companies and Fortune 500 companies who recognize the need to differentiate their products and services to stand out in a cluttered market. Ken is a highly visual, outside-the-box-thinker on advertising, branding and marketing—his work reflects his belief that “We buy with our eyes.” Ken writes and lectures on brands, design, images and brand development. We build brands using knowledge, experience and magic!