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The Story Wars

The Story Wars

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The Story Wars

132 pagine
2 ore
May 12, 2014


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Marketers! Advertising agencies! My brothers and sisters. I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of marketers fails, when we forsake our brands and they all come tumbling down; but it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered companies when our ability to connect to our stakeholders comes crashing down! But it is not this day! This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good earth, I bid you stand, Marketers of the World!

After this shameless bit of copyright infringement from one of the most famous stories of all time, let me tell you that the old era of marketing is over. The time that a brand could just make promises and use one-way communication is over. People just don’t pay the same amount of attention anymore to the way we advertise today’s products. We bombard them with so many messages it’s hard to make one stand out. Now, it’s time to change the way we communicate with our stakeholders. It’s time to enter the battleground that is modern-day marketing and in the midst of war, forge a new way to reach our stakeholders. The Story Wars forces this challenge. In his new book Erik Saelens, executive strategic director and founder of Brandhome, explains why storytelling is essential for a company to survive in today’s changing marketing landscape. How it’s about authenticity and building a passionate dialogue between a company and its stakeholders, about reaching out and connecting with those stakeholders on a deeper level than just a promise. It’s about people buying stories, not products. “After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the things we need most in this world” (Philip Pullman).

In this book Erik discusses, in his own entertaining way, the difference between stories and tales and explains simply how to find and tell your brand’s story. He shows you how storytelling can be a part of your brand being Triple-A® and gives an easy checklist to make sure you’re doing everything right when you use storytelling to reach out to your audiences.

This book arms you with the weapons to fight in The Story Wars. It’s the anvil and the hammer that will help you forge your sword, ready for your masterstroke of storytelling.

Now, to infringe on another copyright, may the story be with you!


Any story, brought in an intelligent way, is more powerful than all of the traditional marketing vehicles combined. This book brings you all the elements of storytelling to help you win The Story Wars.
- Walter Torfs, Director Branding & Communications, BNP Paribas Fortis -

Storytelling is in Erik’s nature. Everything he has taught me as my mentor has somehow always been through a story.
- Jef Pelkmans, Strategy Manager, Brandhome Belgium -

As Saelens rightly points out, we are at the verge of a real story war. If you want to win this war of authenticity, attention, liking and love, then you better read this book!
- Kurt Frenier, Global Vice President Marketing, PepsiCo HQ -

It’s a story about the power of storytelling. It’s a marketing book that reads like a story. Better than an explanation, it’s a demonstration. Great book!
- Nathalie Chevalier, Head of Branding, Communication and Culture AG Insurance & Karel Coudré, Marketing Director Non Life -

People buy stories, not just products. The Story Wars is an inspiring story and way forward for executives everywhere in the age of social and mobile media
- Wim Vos, CEO VAB Group -

After reading this book you will never look the same way ever again at brands and the stories they (don't) tell.
- Peter De Keyzer, Chief Economist, BNP Paribas Fortis -

Creativity and storytelling are like Oreos and milk - separate, they’re nice, but together they’re magic. So if something in your story hasn’t quite clicked yet, this book could be the ultimate branding weapon you’ve been missin

May 12, 2014

Informazioni sull'autore

Erik Saelens is a consultant and interim manager with over 15 years’ experience in brand marketing and communications. He currently holds the position of strategy director at Brandhome. Erik specializes in rebranding and renaming operations, and has researched more than 250 brand-change operations worldwide. He is also an expert on brand management and M&A and IPO strategies, and draws on a strong operational background when putting these strategies into practice. Erik has a solid track record too as an interim manager, performing various roles for a range of international companies and brands. Until 2002 Erik worked as senior brand adviser to the board of Royal Dutch Telecom KPN in The Hague and Brussels. He was previously employed at Sodexo as a member of the international brand management team, having started his career at Walibi, a European amusement park group. Erik studied Economics at the University of Antwerp. He holds a Master in hotel and leisure marketing, and completed several other brand marketing studies. Erik is the author of Brandhome Platform I: Over maatschappij, mens en merk, which explores the relationship between branding, society and individual people. Erik created the Triple-A brand index and published a book on Triple-A brands in 2012 in English and Arabic. In 2013 he published the book about the Brandhome method®. He is a regular guest speaker at conferences and universities, and a frequent contributor to specialist sector media in Benelux. Erik is currently finalizing a new book on rebranding operations. Erik holds Belgian nationality and is fluent in English, Dutch and French.

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Anteprima del libro

The Story Wars - Erik Saelens

Erik Saelens

The Story Wars

How brand stories beat advertising tales!

A Storytelling tool for Triple-A brands®

People first trust people.

Then they trust stories.

Then they trust brands.

- Erik Saelens, author -

The Story Wars

May the story be with you!

- Susan Verhagen, editor -

The Story Wars

by Erik Saelens

published by Brandhome at Smashwords

copyright 2014 Brandhome

All content in this book is copyrighted and protected by applicable copyright laws. Nothing may be published, reproduced, copied, modified, uploaded, transmitted, posted, transferred or distributed in any way without the prior written consent of Brandhome publishing.


Advertising is losing its edge. We are experiencing a transformation in consumers that is giving brands a hard time getting through to them. Communication, for so long the prerogative of companies and brands, has suddenly become something we are all having a go at. The rapid progress of smartphone technology, tablet computers, apps, mobile connectivity and so on, has turned all of us into great communicators... and we are LOVING it. We tweet and retweet, we like and dislike, we share, send and receive, we post our thoughts and ideas, we spread words, pictures and videos every day, any day, nearly 24/7 a day.

The days of passively soaking up all kinds of brand messages and blindly believing them for what they are worth, are over. 'They' don't have to tell us what to believe anymore, because we are very capable of finding things out for ourselves, thank you! Our smartphones, computers and tablets allow us to go out and see through any brand promise in minutes. If we are interested in something we now start looking around for information from sources we trust by nature: family, friends, colleagues, easily reached by mail, chat, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter. We add what they tell us to our own search, to what we have found out ourselves on the internet about what may be behind the promise. Or we search for and then visit websites that compare brands, companies and products to get a better picture. What we come across, we share with others and on and on it goes.

Today's consumers don't take anything for granted anymore, because no one has to anymore. For brands there is a rapidly growing need to adapt to that and become Triple-A brands®. Brands need to have more than a promise. Brands need to have a story. A story that is true, real, authentic and is directing every move. The question now is not: How are we going to create the right image? The question now is: How are we going to make people trust us? Authenticity, Accountability and Activation are the three crucial elements any brand will have to work at to stand a chance in this open and transparent society, where the power of knowledge has shifted into the consumer's hands. Brands cannot afford to hide behind a pretty image, they have to be solid and true to their word.

I already have written and published other books about how to become and behave like a Triple-A brand® ( and, based on Brandhome's long experience as a brand communication agency. For some time now, we have been advising brands to change the script, to become more than a brand in fact. Authenticity, Accountability and Activation should for any serious brand be seen as the pillars for a new kind of communicative bridge building between brand and consumers. The need to tell a story instead of selling a promise demands a new approach to brand communication and even to brand behavior as a whole.

We are on the verge of the Story War. Brands have to be ready to enter a new battleground where true and authentic brand stories will be winning it from traditional advertising tales. And the new weapon of choice is storytelling. It will be a new source of communication, a new kind of marketing tool even, that is rooted in the identity of the brand or the company behind it. The brand story will not just be worked at to get to the traditional brand image or brand proposition. Instead, the brand story will be the guide for extensive storytelling to reach out to people, to customers and potential customers alike.

My colleagues and I have effectively applied storytelling for clients as part of our Brandhome method®, following the 5 steps that make up a thorough and effective storytelling approach: storymining, storylining, storytelling, storyselling and storybuying. Those steps are the building blocks for the continuous effort that is needed to really connect with consumers and turn them into loyal followers of your company or brand. In this book I will take you through the 5 steps and show you when and how to apply them. I will explain why it is essential for Triple-A brands® to work with these steps, as they form a secure guideline for authentic, identity based communication. I will show you why storytelling, the oldest form of communication between people, will be the newest form of communication again. I will have a look at and explain to you the Why, What and How that will have to be discovered by brands to develop a well defined and manageable brand story and to get their storytelling going. And I will take you through the way to actively start storytelling and how to keep your story alive to earn and build the trust from people that any brand will need to win the Story War.

With this book I am not pretending to supply the definitive answer to branding in today's sharing society. However, the message cannot be clearer: there is a Story War starting out there and there will be no hiding place for any story-less brand, big or small, b2c or b2b.

Join the story war with the right weapons. Start thinking about the brand story you will need to tell and how you are going to tell it. I hope my story here will contribute to that in some way. Happy reading.


founder & executive strategic director Brandhome

1. Branding in a sharing society


In 2006 Budweiser scored a big hit worldwide with a TV campaign ( based around this simple conversation starter. Friends phoning each other just to see how things were, how they were doing, what they were doing, which happened to be nothing much: 'watching the game, having a Bud' - that was the (very) basic idea. The phrase and especially the cool and crazy way it was pronounced made it an incredibly popular campaign, that attracted a big following on the internet and lots of individually produced follow-ups.

In hindsight, you could argue that we unknowingly got a sneak peek at the future we actually experience today, everyday, all around us: a world where sharing our lives with others has become the core of our existence. It has culminated in the application that is currently used by some 450 million people, who are sharing around 50 billion messages daily: WhatsApp. As a close translation of Budweiser's Waaazzzuuuuupppp it could not have been a better chosen brand name. WhatsApp is the pinnacle of sharing power that has transformed the way millions of people communicate. Being able to do this for free is of course one of the reasons for its popularity. WhatsApp has wrecked and is still wrecking the business models of mobile operators all around the world. They have seen their expensive mobile phone networks being abandoned by millions of people who prefer WhatsApp for free rather than using whatever they used to phone and text at a cost.

Sharing experiences are taking place on a wider scale than ever before in the history of mankind, not just thanks to free of charge applications like WhatsApp. Our natural love for sharing what we do, hear and feel have also been propelled forward by all those other types of social media that have been developed in the last decade. They have broken down the last doors to freedom, the freedom to express ourselves - something that has been part of our DNA from the very first moment we started roaming the earth as human beings.

Recently, on the wall of a cave near Nerja, Spain, drawings were discovered that are believed to be the very first ever made by human beings. The drawings are estimated to be around 43.000 years old. Mankind has come a long way since then, but when it comes to what we care about as human beings, nothing has changed. The urge to express ourselves is still as strong as it was back then. We like to let people know what we know. We like to listen to what other people have to tell us. We are eager to hear stories that either bring us news, teach us something or simply entertain us. It is storytelling that has made it possible for mankind to make progress. It is storytelling that has been the carrier by which new knowledge, vision, science, solutions, technology and ideals were spread around in ever wider circles of people in a world that grew bigger and bigger.

Story is the most powerful weapon on earth

When Martin Luther King told the story of his dream, his story truly marked the beginning of the work toward equality that still progresses today. The moment John F. Kennedy told the American people about the dream to put a man on the moon, that dream was set in motion and realised. However, at the same time, let us not forget, the stories of Adolf Hitler and Mao Zedong. They were also able to touch a nerve in hundreds of millions of people. They created a blind following that enabled them to execute their plans, igniting some of the most horrible events the world has ever experienced.

The power of storytelling is that the right story, told at the right time, by the right people can spark something off like nothing else can. We are social creatures and as such we will always want to be part of a whole group. Although there is undoubtedly a lot of individuality in every one of us, in the end we flourish most when we are amongst people who share the same ideas, feelings or goals. We feel a strong urge to bond with like-minded people. The sense of belonging makes us all look for others who we can connect with. What it comes down to is: we want to share the same big story. We want to be fans amongst fans, friends amongst friends, supporters of the same club - the same brand.

Ever since brands have started to play an intricate role in our lives, we have grown to like them in general, love or hate some of them in particular or be indifferent to them. Individually every one of us has his own set of favourite brands, depending on the kind of person he is and the kind of lifestyle he leads. Until now a lot, if not most, of the choices we make

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