Monday, September 14, 2009

Seeing the same brand hallmarks in new ways: Lessons for N-of-8 from “Indiana Jones”

When using the N-of-8 process, it’s important to remember that you’re not just writing a story – you’re developing a BRAND story.

So the core brand hallmarks must be presented and maintained consistently. But that doesn’t mean the story can’t be told in many different ways.

Consider the series of Indiana Jones movies. The respected, intellectual professor pulls off his bow tie and glasses to search for treasure. Even across four installments, there are elements that make an “Indiana Jones” story:
  • Jaunts to exotic destinations
  • Dodging booby traps
  • Fighting hand-to-hand with the bad guys
  • Unearthing ancient ruins
  • Hacking through jungles
  • Taking unusual transportation
  • Dining on spectacular, even bizarre meals
  • Snakes!
And there are the hallmarks of Indiana Jones’ personal brand: hat, whip, watch, journal, unshaven beard, even the influences of his father.

With these central and fundamental ingredients, many stories can be crafted with their own unique locations, characters, plots, dangers, and fantasies.

It can be extended from Raiders of the Lost Ark to Temple of Doom, The Last Crusade, and 20 years later, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. What’s more, it can provide the story platform of media extensions into TV series, pinball and video games, and an amusement park ride.

Far from limiting your creative potential, defining the brand hallmarks gives a structure to which you can then build endless story possibilities.

The same principles can be seen when analyzing other popular movies series, like Star Wars, James Bond, Pink Panther, and Rocky. That’s why I often use these as a warm-up exercise with our creative teams before we start writing stories for N-of-8 groups. It helps us find parallels, archetypes, villains, conflicts, and climaxes. We recall the look of the titles and credits. We even sing the theme song or hum the main chorus.

As you begin crafting your brand’s story, put together a list of the escapades you’ll experience – plunging into a pit of snakes, cruising around on elephants, hitching a ride of a zeppelin, or searching for the Holy Grail.

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