15 Days of Secrets Signs & Symbols of Success. 4 Stick to the story “That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.”

What really makes a brand story stick is the stick of its progenitors: those who start and establish the brand. Often, about the time a brand’s founders are beginning to get really tired of a brand’s story is also when the public is beginning to pick up on it. It is absolutely vital that you do not ‘change horses’ midstream. Doing so is anathema (opposing intention) to better branding, and one may as well start from scratch if that is one’s approach.

Human nature being what it is and attention span being what it is (currently approaching that of a fruit fly, I hear), you are going to want to switch stories, or at least make major renovations to it.

Do not. At least not until further analysis.

Once you are able to identify your story and attune your organization to it, it may take some time for everyone to pick up on it. Remember, the story is not even yours, and mainly is in your customers’ minds, not your managers.

So, all you can really do is sort of guide it, stick-handle it, gently and easily into a form or a goal that already exists. You can’t change the goal and expect fans not to boo and hiss and likely leave the stadium.

To brand is a long game and requires resolution and commitment to a cause and a story. Revelation may return considerable interest in your investment towards consistency—after a while. Losses, however, can occur frequently and all too fatally for brands that do not maintain resolution with one steady story.

How many people recall the original ‘smart’ phone device, the Blackberry? Unfortunately for its maker, shareholders and customers, this brand was distracted by the launch of a competitive product, the Apple iPhone and became almost overnight ‘second best’. In reality, Research In Motion’s corporate strategy was never the same story as Apple’s, yet Apple’s superior ability to get its strong story across, combined with Blackberry’s ongoing inability to clearly see their own story has created a dynamic which the role of the original ‘smart’ phone brand has become that of an almost irrelevant bit player.

Too many Canadian companies, in particular, from Blackberry to The Hudson’s Bay Company to Eaton’s to Woodward’s, have shifted stories when the going got tough and deluded themselves into thinking they were adjusting to market conditions when they had in fact lost sight of their originating and powerful stories as leaders and became instead market followers, trailing downwards with ever-decreasing market share into oblivion.

If your story is sounding or seeming irrelevant, then it may be time to dig a little deeper into it, rather than just switching stories. Switching stories is anathema to brands, and usually makes about as much sense as setting fire to your customer lists.

It may be tempting, if occasional embarrassments arise, to apologize for your brand’s character. Don’t. Do not do that. If your brand is out of character, then apologize. If it is in character and someone does not like it, do not apologize. Thank them for their opinion and move on. They are not fans. It’s okay for not everyone to like you. Actually, it is pretty much required that some people won’t like your brand, if only to even out the number of people who LOVE it!

Stick to your story. If questioned, I have always felt it helpful to say with an affirmative nod: “That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!”

People like that.

It is okay to make a point. You will find that being boring is less valuable in the market than brands that have character—sticking to their story, even when or if parts of it seem unpopular. There is a good reason for your story that will surface.

While we are all destined to rot in the dust eventually, to paraphrase Shakespeare, do not your brand let disappear into the night: rail your forces, align your message and communications around current events and focus your brand on needs with relevancy to today’s market, consumers, communications, and media.

Get whatever help you need to cope because it is only going to go faster from now on!

While the Bay is still around in Canada and most Canadians probably still think of it as Canadian, it is no longer the company listed above. HBC is now significantly foreign-owned.  

Do not become tomorrow’s forgotten brand.


The dynamic architecture that is architectonics first helped detect all seven of the fundamental brand types, described in The Matriarchy of Brands. Meanwhile, there is a seven-point outline of applying the architecture, that we call the Seven Secrets to Branding Anything:

7 Secrets to Branding Anything

1.     A brand is a story. Period.

2.     The story exists in minds of customers
not managers.

3.     You didn’t invent the story
& neither did your customers!

4.     Stick to the story.
“That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.”

Subscribe to this blog to get all seven secrets in the fifteen days of secrets, here at 7secretstobranding.

The second edition of my Branding Manual, Signs & Symbols of Success, is now available! The ideal classroom compendium and lecture starting point reveals the startling matrix behind brands that work. This book levels the playing field by spelling out for the first time the previously unwritten, unbiased code of conduct for all successful global brands. Order YOUR Copy of this Indispensable Reference, including The Matriarchy of Brands, today!

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