Have you heard the Amen Break or the Wilhelm Scream? Maybe you’ve seen a film by Alan Smithee or eaten an In-n-Out Burger “Animal Style” and washed it down with a can of Heisler Beer. What do all these things have in common? They are all examples of the secret languages of subcultures and an important part to developing a Deeply Immersive Narrative Universe for your brand.
I won’t go into detail on these examples, you can click on the links. But here’s a great clip on the Wilhelm Scream:
Now, of course, you’re going to be listening for that scream in every movie and TV show you watch. And when you hear it, or even think you hear it, you’ll smile and nod knowingly. Maybe you’ll be watching with a friend and they’ll look at you and say, “What?” As you explain the Wilhelm Scream, another new person learns the secret language.
That’s a powerful, emotional connection being created. Not only does the consumer feel special when he knows something that’s supposed to be inside information, they get a special thrill when they can share that with others.
What bit of secret, inside information are you creating for your brand? How are you going to share it? Who are you going to share it with?
Remember it doesn’t have to be a big thing, in fact the smaller, and possibly less relevant, the better. Maybe it’s the name you give a color in your logo. How about leaking the beta-test name for a product? All this goes to create the mythology for your brand.
One important final caveat: One you do this, let it go. Don’t actively promote it or call attention to it. If your consumers tweak it and change the story that’s fine too. A little confusion and mystery can actually add to the mystique. If you are challenged or questioned, don’t deny the existence of this secret code or disavow any knowledge. Simply acknowledge your commitment to providing a fantastic experience for your consumers and applaud their devotion.