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February 2010

BMW - Driven By The Power of Brand Storytelling

When it comes to grasping key elements in the world of brand storytelling, BMW is one of the best in the world.

One of their newest print ads uses several techniques that are key to success in brand storytelling. The ad covers 4 pages in this month's Vanity Fair magazine and features the keyword "Joy."

Here's why the ad tells the story of the BMW brand in an effective and engaging way:

1) The combination of both colour and black and white images reveal the intended amount of emotional appeal. The colour scheme also matches the tagline associated with each photo. For example, an old shot of Elvis waving to a crowd is featured in black and white. The tagline? "Joy is timeless." Black and white is traditionally used to portray something of historical/archival proportions and was used quite effectively here. The last set of photos features a more modern generation driving the cars. Colour is used to emphasize the 'changing colours of joy' in today's society. It also implies a multi-dimensional perspective on the BMW brand experience.

2) Copy is used to drive the brand story home. The theme of "joy" appears on every page and accompanying copy tells micro-stories on its own. The first page is presented in black and white - with just copy and no visuals. The copy reads: "We do not make cars. We are the creators of emotion. We are the keepers of the thrill. We are the guardians of the one three-letter word. It's independent of everyone. Accountable to no one but the driver. While others try to promise everything, we promise the most personal, cherished and human of all emotions. JOY."

The brand is personalized through the use of effective and engaging copy.

3) Emotion is used to tell the brand story. BMW "gets us" through the use of nostalgia (copy and visuals), and by tying the brand experience (driving a BMW) into our own humanity. Micro-stories are used within the overall brand story. Hollywood is mentioned, and credits are listed showing how the BMW brand has been a player on the Hollywood scene. The player (or brand in this case), is actually a participant (or actor) in its own story. 

The use of brand storytelling techniques to drive home the BMW brand experience proves that the storytelling method doesn't have to be overly conceptual, technical nor complex. All it takes is a little bit of guts - and the desire and inclination to be among the best brands in the world.

So the question remains...just why aren't there more companies out there doing this?