The Storytellers: Guy Duncan, Coca-Cola

Guy Duncan, Coca-Cola
Guy Duncan, Coca-Cola

Why storytelling is such a powerful technique in brand communication depends on your perspective. Read on for "The Marketer's" take on how best to use narrative to engage.

It's not so much that we design our marketing around storytelling, but around conversation flow. We find great ideas that flow from touchpoint to touchpoint. We call them liquid ideas; they evolve and fuel conversations naturally.

The first thing we do is ensure our brand story is satisfying objectives. What are we trying to do with volume and value, and how are we going to get the most out of our brand? Good content experts have those questions in mind when they create stories.

One of the best stories we've told comes from our packaging: our "Share a Coke" platform is about putting a name on packs. That's it, very simple. But through it, people share stories and friendship, in-store, on-shelf, online. Happiness is our brand vision: that's what we want to convey. We know there are routes to happiness and one of them is friendship, and if you look at that one tactic, it just flows as a continuous idea. It seemed to work from culture to culture and across borders.

Every story we tell needs to work toward the objective of selling beverages. We have to make sure that the brand strategy allows us to evaluate and develop stories single-mindedly around that objective.

So, an author can jump from adult's literature to children's literature, for example. A brand has to be sure of its target audiences. Every story that runs through every one of our brands has to create value.

Consumer involvement in the story is growing. The question "how will we involve our consumer in this story?" appears on briefs now. Until four or five years ago, brands preached their strategy to consumers. Now we want consumers to take part in the conversation with us.

Our best example to date, where the art and science came together beautifully, was last year. We streamed an interactive video between two giant vending machines and put them on either side of the border between India and Pakistan, two countries where you couldn't cross from one side to the other. It was beautiful.

Guy Duncan is global group content director at Coca-Cola

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