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Brand Storytelling: Powerful Marketing Strategies Inspired by ‘Succession’

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What do the cutthroat power struggles of a dysfunctional billionaire family and marketing have in common? It seems an unlikely comparison at first, but when you watch HBO’s wildly popular TV series ‘Succession,’ you’ll realize there’s more overlap than you might think. It’s time to take a seat at the Roy family’s boardroom table and uncover the valuable marketing lessons buried beneath the layers of family drama and corporate power plays.

Make Conflict Your Crown Jewel

“Succession” thrives on the conflict that lies at its core – the fierce battle for the throne of a media empire. The tumultuous clashes between personalities, the sibling rivalries, the devious stratagems—they all keep us riveted. And that’s where our first marketing lesson is nestled.

In the world of digital marketing, conflict isn’t just a plot device—it’s a key ingredient to create engaging narratives. This doesn’t mean instigating a corporate family feud, but rather acknowledging the age-old marketing principle of conflict resolution. In essence, it’s identifying your target audience’s problems and showcasing your product or service as the ultimate solution.

Take, for example, the project management platform, ClickUp. They expertly employ conflict in their marketing strategy by directly advertising against competitors’ search terms with confrontational ad copy. A Google search for ‘Monday’ might yield a ClickUp ad that reads “Stuck on The Worst Week Day?” or a search for ‘Asana’ could lead you to ClickUp’s “Don’t Get Stuck with Asana” ad. By framing your brand as the solution to a pressing problem or the superior choice in a market showdown, you craft a narrative that provokes the audience into action.

Every Character Counts

Just as each character in “Succession” has their unique strengths, flaws, and motivations that make us empathize with them (or even loathe them), a brand too is a character in its own right. The emotional response it evokes can drive the success or failure of your marketing strategy.

Knowing your audience like the back of your hand is paramount. Understand their aspirations, fears, and needs—then shape your brand’s persona to align with these insights. You might be wondering, “How do I go about creating a brand persona?” Let’s break it down:

  1. Understand your brand’s essence: Your brand is not your logo, website, or product. It’s an amalgamation of personality traits and associations that people make about your company.
  2. Distinguish between branding and marketing: If branding is the why, marketing is the how.
  3. Choose defining personality traits: Carl Jung’s 12 archetypes can serve as a great starting point.
  4. Contemplate your color choices: Believe it or not, up to 90% of snap judgments made about products can be based on color alone.
  5. Consider a mascot: Mascots can make your brand more relatable and memorable.
  6. Define your tone: Remember, voice and tone are not identical.
  7. Formulate your key messages: Begin with influential words, then outline concepts you aim to amplify, minimize, or eliminate.
  8. Keep evolving: Regularly reassess your brand personas to ensure they align with your evolving company vision and mission.

Surprise: The Secret Ingredient

The unexpected plot twists in “Succession” keep us on tenterhooks. Just when we think we’ve got a handle on things, the narrative takes a jaw-dropping detour. Injecting a dash of surprise into your marketing narrative can make your brand storytelling more compelling and memorable.

Take the automotive company Kia, for instance. Who could forget their famous hamster ads for the Kia Soul?

Giant dancing hamsters are far from standard in car commercials, making Kia’s campaign an unforgettable detour from the norm. By embracing the unconventional, they created a memorable marketing moment that left a lasting impression.

During your next strategy brainstorm, don’t shy away from out-of-the-box ideas. They could be the unexpected plot twist that hooks your audience and sets your brand apart in a crowded market.

Speak Up, Stand Out

“Succession” is renowned for its biting dialogue, snappy one-liners, and distinct dark humor. Its unique voice is unmistakable and a large part of its magnetic charm. Likewise, your brand should boast a recognizable voice that resonates with your audience.

While acerbic wit may not be fitting for all brands, a distinctive, consistent voice is a non-negotiable. Be it playful and punchy or formal and authoritative, your vocabulary and tone choices craft your brand voice. By using language that echoes your brand personality, you ensure your audience can always pick your voice out of the cacophonous crowd.

Play the Long Game

If “Succession” has taught us anything, it’s that quick resolutions rarely make for compelling viewing. The slow-burning drama unfolding over time keeps viewers eagerly invested.

Marketers, too, should resist the temptation of short-term gains and focus on cultivating a consistent, long-term narrative. Remember, your brand story isn’t a single campaign—it’s an evolving narrative that fosters audience trust and loyalty over time.

Like the characters in “Succession” constantly maneuvering to become the heir apparent to Logan’s empire, your brand should be responsive to changing times and shifting audience needs. While consistency is key, it should not breed stagnation. Balancing adaptability to market shifts while staying faithful to your core brand values can be challenging, but it’s the cumulative effect of these strategic adjustments that keeps your audience engaged and invested for the long haul.

Embrace Your Inner Storyteller

Whether it’s a high-stakes corporate drama like “Succession” or a marketing campaign, compelling storytelling is at the heart of audience engagement. The lessons gleaned from “Succession’s” masterful narrative techniques can help us craft marketing stories that truly resonate with our audience.

The dysfunctional world of the Roys may seem far removed from our everyday marketing efforts. Still, it’s packed with potent insights that can inspire us to create memorable brand narratives, engage our audiences more effectively, and, ultimately, drive our brand’s succession story.

And on that note, it’s your turn to write your brand’s next chapter. Take these lessons to heart, embrace the drama, and start crafting a marketing narrative that’s as engaging as any prime-time drama. Now, go out and tell your story.

Wrap Up

Embracing conflict, understanding your character, surprising your audience, finding your unique voice, and playing the long game – these are the key marketing lessons hidden within HBO’s “Succession.” Remember, the key to marketing, much like creating an engaging TV series, is to tell a compelling story that resonates with your audience. Now, it’s your turn to take these lessons from the small screen and apply them to your marketing strategies. Drop us a message or schedule a call with our team today to embrace the drama and make your brand’s story a success.

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