Rather than use this blog as a vehicle to distribute fully formed, ready to go concepts, I feel this is a good forum for developing ideas and hopefully receiving feedback from readers who can build upon the idea, and together something better is developed. I’m still wrestling with the concept I termed, “Deeply Immersive Narrative Universe” (DINU). While I obviously believe it has merit, I don’t presume that it is a 100% original idea. I’m sure on some level it comes from the same vein as Seth Godin’s All Marketers Are Liars which is subtitled: The Power of Telling Authentic Stories in a Low-Trust World. Also, the super sharp and genuinely hospitable (must be a Canadian thing) Grant McCracken turned me on to Henry Jenkins and his Transmedia Storytelling.
Telling authentic stories across a variety of media channels is definitely part of the DINU idea, but there is another element that I believe is crucial and has only become so in the last year or two. Brands (people, teams, products, companies, cities…) need to not just develop a story, but also provide an opportunity for others to take that story to new places. The users experience with a brand is unique and their perception of the brand is just as important as the marketers in today’s world. Sure, you can put out ads and change your logo, but today consumers can do that to your brand as well. The key is creating an environment that is so authentic and compelling that when consumers do generate their own content that utilizes your brand, they do so in a way that is in line with your existing messaging. I can almost guarantee that no matter who you are – Google, Nike, Apple, Starbucks, WalMart – there is a consumer out there that can create something better than what you or your agencies are currently doing.
So, here are the first couple of steps to building a DINU brand:
1. The core product itself has to be good. You can’t fake that.
2. Take the time to develop a narrative framework. You don’t have to fill in all the blanks, in fact you don’t want to fill in all the blanks. There should be some mystery, some intrigue for people to discover later, or create their own mythology.
3. Be open to consumer content, incorporate it into your narrative. You’ll have a much deeper connection with the consumer if you develop the narrative, and the brand, together.
4. Be adaptable. New technologies, new storylines, new brand utility, you don’t know what opportunities will arise so create a broad Universe that can accomodate multiple viewpoints as long as they align with the overall narrative.
I’m sure this idea will continue to evolve. I hope to have more examples of DINU brands posted shortly that will further this conversation.