• Rocky: what we can all learn from the storytelling of boxing classic

    Remember the closing scene from Rocky? When he has his showdown with Apollo? As humans we love stories, especially ones with symbolic meanings like Rocky. Stories don’t just activate the “language processing” left side of our brain, but the right side too, which triggers feelings and emotions. Sudhir Kumar, marketing director from Origin, discusses why storytelling is important in brand marketing, and what drinks businesses can learn from the cult boxing film Rocky. 

    Remember the closing scene from Rocky? When he has his showdown with Apollo? As humans we love stories, especially ones with symbolic meanings like Rocky. Stories don’t just activate the “language processing” left side of our brain, but the right side too, which triggers feelings and emotions. Sudhir Kumar, marketing director from Origin, discusses why storytelling is important in brand marketing, and what drinks businesses can learn from the cult boxing film Rocky. 

    mm By April 2, 2019

    What drinks businesses can learn from Rocky? Attention, emotion and connection…

    Rocky’s bloody teeth snarl at Apollo, and he waves him to come ahead and fight toe to toe… Apollo obliges with a weary but effective burst of rights and lefts that have K.O. written on every punch. Rocky counters the assault blow for blow.

    Rocky: Gimme ya best!!!

    Mickey looks at the clock…10 seconds to go!                                

    Rocky (continues): Gimme ya best!!!

    Blood sprays over the ropes and onto the ringside photographers…They are horrified and wipe away the blood.

    The fighters stand toe to toe and drag every remaining bit of strength from their souls and beat each other without mercy. They look hypnotised and have entered a dimension far beyond blood and pain.

    The clock ticks down: six, five, four, three, two, one!

    (The classic training sequence from Rocky 1)

    Never give up

    The story of Rocky shares how a boxer was given a chance to fight the heavyweight champion of the world. For me this film symbolises the act of “never giving up” and it proves that your dreams can come true if you’re willing to put the work in.

    And this meaning is why the film still motivates me today, and why stories are remembered, because they are personal, emotionally compelling and engage more of the brain. So, what can businesses take away from Rocky to boost their brand marketing efforts?

    Attention

    Rocky not only captured my attention but managed to hold it. How? By increasing the tension throughout the story, evoking emotion, and by giving me something I can relate to and believe in.

    When you maintain attention, the brain produces symptoms that cause the heart and breathing to speed up, stress hormones are released, and focus is at its highest. Once focus is at its highest, we begin to emotionally resonate with the story and characters. This has often been called “transportation” where we feel as though we are part of the story.

    Businesses can achieve this same effect by telling their brand story. So, make sure you have a thorough understanding of your audience, what’s important to them, and the language they use when drafting your brand story and messaging. And then, ensure you always communicate it through all your communications – whether that’s email, direct mail, on your website or in your social media posts.

    Emotion

    There is a lot of emotion in Rocky and he carries many values and traits that the audience can relate to and empathise with. And, humans naturally form bonds and groups based on common beliefs and understandings.

    When you’re considering your brand story think about what’s important to your audience, and how you can pull that into your story. And, consider your company’s ethical stance, and how this can impact your brand story.

    Lessons

    Rocky has a dramatic structure as you see him overcome the difficulties by digging deep and then the final bell sounds.

    From a brand storytelling point of view, this is about ensuring you can show your learnings and development through your communications. For example, if your business gets it wrong, admit it and be transparent, and celebrate your key milestones and successes too as this can help position your brand as credible and build trust amongst your target audience.

    Connection

    Stories can motivate us, and this was definitely the case for Rocky with me. When communicated effectively stories can have a big influence on us and can encourage us to take action and step out of our comfort zone.

    Admit it, after you watched Rocky you wanted to become a pro-boxer?

    And that’s what your marketing and brand story telling should do to your audience – encourage them to take the desired call-to-action that you’re offering. Whether that is signing up to your communications, picking up the phone to talk to a member of your sales team, or purchasing your service or product. It’s all in the story you tell through your communications.

    Take Guinness for example, the iconic Irish stout that was created in the 1960s and is working hard to make its brand ageless. It did this recently through its “Made of More” campaign, which celebrated the attitude shared by the brand and its drinkers – getting more out of life my putting more in.

    The multimedia campaign included print and digital and ran across TV advertisements and social media.

    Speaking about the campaign when it was first developed, Little Black Book quoted Nick Britton, Guinness senior brand manager, saying: “We think the new brand creative will resonate with people who are open-minded and alive to opportunity and it will inspire them to never settle for the ordinary. The idea of something being made of more is one that really reflects a shared attitude Guinness has with its drinkers who love the distinctive look and taste of Guiness and aspire to get the most out of every aspect of their lives. It’s not defined by a single age, class or demographic”.

    Final word

    So, now you understand how stories can be used to influence your target audience, it’s time to put it into action. And, remember your brand story should be of relevance and meaningful to your audience to resonate with them and be authentic.

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