Copywriting Trick: How to Write a Brand Story When There Is No Story
Introducing the Reflected Color TechniqueSM
Did you know that an apple isn’t really red?
An orange isn’t orange.
Grass isn’t green.
John Oates’ mustache isn’t black.
It’s true. An object’s real color is actually every color except for the color our eyes see.
In the apple example, and I’m about to get Bill Nye the Science Guy on you, but the surface of an apple reflects the wavelengths we see as red and absorbs every other color. So, technically, an apple is every color except red. Technically. But red is reflected to our eyes. Thus, apples appear to be red.1
Here’s how this science lesson applies to marketing…
How to Use the Reflected Color TechniqueSM to Help Build a Brand’s Story
Have you ever had a client request brand work due to a deadline…instead of a story to tell its audience?
If I had a nickel…
“So what’s the story?” I ask.
“I dunno. Show our products and put a cool headline on it. It’s due in two days.”
I dig deeper. (Always dig deeper.)
I offer a few story ideas. I sing. I dance. I offer examples of other great stories in advertising.
So what do you do when you have nothing?
You sit the client down (or get them on the phone) and you have them reflect stories back to you.
Start with a semi-crazy story you know they’ll kill. Good, they killed it. Movement!
Now get the Reflected Color Train rolling.
Remember, have your client bounce ideas back to you.
This trick ensures an instant response. A quick win. Yes, technically, we’re losing at the moment in finding a story, but losing early is better than “I don’t know” or “I’ll know it when I see it.” (The death of brand campaigns.)
You should know what stories your client’s brand will absorb. But the problem is that your client lives these stories every day. Sometimes, they’re just sick of them. So they throw their hands up. Or maybe they really don’t know the story of their new service or product.
Maybe the media deadline snuck up on them, so the ball’s in your court. Chop chop.
The Reflected Color Technique lets everyone know what stories WILL NOT work.
Kill away. But keep throwing stories at them.
Find what DOESN’T stick, then keep moving fast. (Speed and laughter are key, since, technically, you are the brand expert. So keep the stories in the realm of possibility lest the client think you’ve lost sight of the brand.)
You’ll find that, very soon, something wonderful happens.
Something starts to stick. Maybe part of a story. Maybe just a nugget. Suddenly, you and your client start forming the story together.
This is when the magic happens. When everyone has a vested interest. And quite honestly, the Reflected Color Technique is so different than the usual marketing pitch meetings, sometimes the stories are so outlandish, laughter ensues.
This takes a great client relationship, of course, so don’t throw the Reflected Color Technique into a corporate banking meeting with CFOs and lawyers.
“I dare say, young ma’am, what is the gobbledygook you speak of.” (Says every corporate lawyer, I assume.)
But hey, starting with a semi-crazy story sometimes peels away the layers to an unexpected story. Or sometimes it’s just a fun, creative way to get to the good, ol’ fashioned, boring story that the client was sick of in the first place. (Which, by the way, has worked for years and makes everyone gobs of money.)
Try it. Let me know how it works. And don’t be afraid to elicit laughter. Emotion is welcomed.
“In an absence of a story, people write their own.”
1If you’re REALLY bored, read more about color reflection.
2Ron Burgundy, of course.