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Bernadette Jiwa: Adventures in Branding

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What an IKEA ad can teach us all about storytelling

This article originally appeared in the March 2015 edition of INVISION.


Want to see a home run in brand storytelling? Take two minutes to watch this ad from IKEA, then join me back here.

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This ad wasn’t designed to sell anything. It was designed to tell a story called “Start Something New.” Here are 10 things IKEA did brilliantly:

Understood their customers’ worldview. The ad answers the question “Why do/will people shop at IKEA?”

Made the customer the hero. The product always plays the supporting role.

Started with his story. Most marketing screams … “we need to sell more stuff.” But this story whispers, “look what you could become.”

Changed how the customer felt and acted in the presence of their product. We clearly see how his belief about what’s possible for him widens.

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Understood what they are really selling. It’s not chairs or bookcases. It’s a universal tale of adventure and possibility.

Helped us to see reflections of ourselves in the hero. His story is our story. We are all on a quest to be better versions of ourselves.

Tapped into our emotions, creating a visceral connection with the brand. There is not a fact in sight — no product name, price, store location. Nothing.

Created advertising that aligns with the company’s vision and brand personality. Did the advertisement make you feel good?

Backed up the story with the experience delivered in store and across all touchpoints with the brand. Consistency is key.

Gave potential customers something to believe in. This ad helps us not just to buy products, but to buy into the brand story.

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Whether you are selling furniture or frames or Lasik surgery, it’s so much easier to adopt default thinking and lead by telling people what we do — which is why most businesses do it.

But you are not most businesses. Your customers are waiting for you to give them something to believe in and to take them where they want to go.


BERNADETTE JIWA is the author of four No. 1 Amazon business bestsellers. She works with businesses around the world showing them how to become meaningful brands. This column is adapted from a post at her blog thestoryoftelling.com.

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