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Chapter two:
The plot thickens


What we do and how our clients use it

We articulate story frameworks and storytelling principles for brands.

Working with the people who know the brand best, we uncover and articulate the why behind your story—both why you do what you do (above and beyond just making money) and why the audience will care. Based on a deep understanding of story and character, we can make strategic recommendations that are uniquely actionable. And we can provide the tools which will make all of your brand storytelling more effective.

To discover and articulate the story framework of a brand, we convene a workshop that brings together the people whose relationship with the brand is most strategic. Over the course of the workshop we:

  • Teach the principles of effective storytelling
  • Use story-based experiences to uncover the authentic story of the brand
  • Identify the elements of the brand that make its story emotionally resonant
  • Articulate the story framework of the brand
  • Define strategic imperatives based on the story
  • Identify principles and provide tools for more effective story telling

The result is clarity. By the end of the workshop, we deliver the story framework of the brand and use that story framework to answer a range of questions from broad and strategic issues to very specific and tactical ones.

Our clients have used our process to...

  • Define brand purpose (Amazon, Walmart)
  • Clarify positioning in a volatile category (Gallo Family Vineyard)
  • Optimize portfolio strategy and minimize cannibalization (Seattle’s Best Coffee)
  • Outline launch strategy for a new brand or product (Dark Horse Wine)
  • Reassert leadership against a formidable challenger (Old Spice)
  • Define brand voice for new channels–especially social media (Wendy’s)
  • Create, revitalize or reimagine iconic brand characters (Ronald McDonald, Juan Valdez, Laughing Cow)
  • Maintain brand identity and culture in the face of changes in ownership (Goose Island Brewery)
  • Crystalize and articulate the “founder energy” in a brand story (Perdue Farms)
  • Rearticulate and refresh the foundations of an iconic global brand (Tabasco)
  • Rebrand, drive growth, and increase employee engagement in the B2B space (Veritiv)
“For B2B businesses, Character is a powerful tool. I have used Character three times in my leader marketing roles, 2x were in B2B businesses. The Character work was the foundation of a transformation in product innovation/commercialization, rebranding, M&A, sales growth, and employee engagement. Character’s work helped us take dead brands and make them relevant again and helped us establish lesser-known brands with high share in a B2B market. What’s so unique is that you don’t create something that the ‘marketing talking heads’ think the company needs, you use the history, culture and DNA that is already part of the company to bring out the true story that is unique to only your brand. The Character team is so special, genuine, and has the perfect mix of creative and business knowledge to lead cross-functional executives through this process. ”
—Melissa Minihan, Head of Digital Commerce & Marketing, Veritiv Corporation

“Character gets to the heart of what good storytelling is all about. They’ve helped Wendy’s focus on what makes us unique, different and special and that’s helped us to get people’s attention, keep their interest and keep the business growing. We compete with much larger brands, but by being overt about how we want to attack those differences, we’ve been able to have a lot of tension and conflict in the story that we are telling. That allows us to keep the story fresh and to fuel it. The more we do that the more positive attention we get as a brand and the more the brand continues to grow, which, in turn, builds our confidence in our storytelling and keeps the courage level high.”

—Kurt  Kane, President U.S. & Chief Commercial Officer, Wendy’s Corporation

“I’ve been through Character’s story framework process four times in my career, and it has always added extraordinary value. It was a central piece of Walmart’s rebranding effort in 2006, as we sought a new articulation of our brand narrative and our purpose. It’s an equally powerful tool for us now, as Walmart defines its place in a rapidly transforming retail environment. And we are currently using it to do the same for Sam’s Club.”

—Tony Rogers, Chief Marketing Officer, Walmart

“Character’s approach to brand building is unlike any other in the business. Jim and his team use the timeless truths of human storytelling to unlock story potential and connect deeply with brand audiences. I’ve worked with Character throughout my career, and my experience with Tabasco was as fascinating, inspiring, and productive as ever. 

Character worked with our team not only to help us re-examine and re-articulate the elemental truths of our iconic global brand but also to develop and apply practical tools that make the brand story framework user-friendly for our entire organization. 

I whole-heartedly recommend Character to any brand marketer who is looking to make intuitive and durable connections with their consumer.”

Lee Susen, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer, Tabasco / McIlhenny Company