Is your brand a myth, story, or legend?

I admit I wasn’t paying adequate attention when my elementary school teacher covered this but as someone who works with and writes about “legendary” brands I now have a compelling interest….and so should you.

How would you categorize your company? …. a myth, story or a legend.  Here are some quick definitions to aid your consideration:

Myth – A fiction or half-truth, especially one that forms part of an ideology

Story – A real or fictional account or report regarding an event or group of events

Legend – a story that is carried by its audience, often gaining some of the audience’s own perspective

In his book, entitled Legendary brands, Laurence Vincent suggests that “legendary brands forge deep bonds with consumers through narrative devices.  They are storytellers, drawing from a library of timeless narratives… to captivate consumers and sustain meaning across cultural borders.  It is the narrative of the Legendary Brand that generates and sustains customer affinity.”

While I completely agree with Laurence that timeless narratives are essential to becoming a legendary brand, I also see the role of compelling brand experiences.  It is through these types of experiences that customers advance your brand’s story.  Many branding firms look at the intersection of story and customer experience in defining what is legendary.

Legendary brands I write books about like Starbucks, the Pike Place Fish Market, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company (and my upcoming book about Zappos) have a corporate storyline melded with rich stories of customer experience excellence.

Take Zappos’ storyline for example.  At the corporate level Zappos is “powered by service.”  Essentially, their epic and timeless story is that of a small company founded by a couple of college friends whose persistence and unorthodox “weird style” beat all the odds and parlayed a company to billion dollar revenues and a billion dollar buy out largely on the strength of their service.

On the customer experience side, it is as simple as a recent tweet  by Jon Ferrara, “My son wrote Zappos a letter & they sent him back a book on Company Culture personally signed by the entire management team”.  Great customer experiences join with the overarching story line and the audience/consumer carries the conversation forward to build lore and legend.

What’s your company’s story line?

How can you increase the level of customer experiences so that your audience carries forward your stories and make them legend?

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Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies.

Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

1 Comment

  1. Jon Ferrara on November 6, 2010 at 8:45 am

    Hi Joseph,
    Here is the full Zappos letter story;

    I had a customer experience last night that almost brought tears to my
    eyes and I wanted to personally share it with you. My son had a
    English class assignment to write a feedback letter to a company. He
    choose to write Zappos since he loved the company. He loves Zappos
    because he can easily find shoes he likes, order them and get them
    quickly without any hassle if he needs to send them back.

    So he wrote a letter of gratitude expressing his appreciation for the
    years of excellent service they provided him.

    Zappos then blew me away by sending my son Ian a book called “Zappos
    Culture Book” They went a step further by having the entire
    management team personally sign the book, each writing a short
    personal message to my son Ian. When he showed me the book I was
    stunned. I could not put it down. I have rarely had an experience
    like this in all my years of business.

    On one of the first pages was the following quote by the CEO/Founder Tony Hsieh;

    “People may not remember exactly what you did or what you said, but
    they will always remember how you made them feel.”

    I will always remember how this experience made me feel.

    I am a Zappos customer for Life!

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