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Ice cream tales – brand storytelling and poker

May 7, 2007

These days, every brand expert is talking about the power of storytelling. There are many reasons for it, not least, the desire to inject more humanity into brands. The problem is that storytelling is like a game of poker, because a better story can always come along to trump yours.

Let’s look at ice cream as an example.

There used to be a time when Haagen Dazs had the premium ice cream market to itself. It made up a name and sold its “specialness”. Along came Ben and Jerry’s, the name was real and there was a good reason to believe the ice cream was special, it came from Vermont.

Josh Friedland at The Food Section informs us that there’s a new player in the ice cream storytelling stakes, GROM a mini-ice cream chain (12 stores worldwide) who has just opened a store in New York.

Here are the components of the GROM story.

–    It’s from Turin, Italy – one of the centers of good ice cream
–    The founders are young entrepreneurs
–    The ice cream’s ingredients are sanctioned by the Slow Food movement and include; Sfusato lemons from Amalfi and pistachios from Bronte in Sicilly
–    The ice cream is mixed in Italy and whipped when they arrive in NYC
–    The sorbets are made of 50% fruit and 50% San Bernado mineral water
–    The company will soon be growing its own some of its own fruit
–    The chocolate they use comes from Ecuador and Venezula

GROM’s story is multi-dimensional; it has a lot of interesting layers and elements; stretching from the founders, to the process and the ingredients. This is important for a couple of reasons.

1.    Word of Mouth Power: It gives the “Mavens” who want to spread the story, good content for the viruses.

2.    Proof: Months back Influx wrote a post on the critical drivers of C21st Branding– Proof was one of the core components. In a world where Internet search dominates, rational elements help to prove your case. However, if these elements can have an added emotional layer, the more powerful they become. GROM has the romance and purity of Italy and the Slow Food movement. The more layers, the more chance you have to differentiate and the more reasons you are giving consumers to check you out.

Weaving together stories has always been a part of the brand communication process. Advertising agencies were often hired to make up and exaggerate these stories.

Today, it’s important that your brand possesses not only an authentic story, but it also needs multiple layers. Brand development and refreshment is simply about adding more layers to the story making it more robust and therefore harder to competitors to trump.


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