Marketing is not, or at least should not, be a sprint. For many brands, especially an entertainment property, it can evolve into a never-ending process that continues to grow, and if nurtured properly can continue beyond the life of the original creator.
Lasting brands often develop passionate fans and advocates because they have tapped into a deep emotional human desire: The desire for narrative. People love well told stories and it is clear that they want deep connections with characters, environments and new worlds. If you manage a property, or even a brand, you have an opportunity to create a Deeply Immersive Narrative Universe (DINU).
Doing so takes time and energy, imagination and discipline, creativity and planning. It means getting really smart people to commit to creating something a little risky. It means letting go and embracing a collaborative environment where people not only want to observe or consume, but also take part in the creative process. Sure, there are potential risks here, some people aren’t going to “get” what you are trying to do, but you have to keep going, digging deeper.
The successful examples are myriad: Dune by Frank Herbert and Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings have both survived long beyond the lifetime of their original authors. Their works have been expanded upon and enhanced by both professionals and fans. Incredibly devoted followings have grown because of the remarkable depth of detail and the richness of the story.
Star Wars and Star Trek have both spawned countless quantities of fan fiction because the characters in the universe are so thourougly human. They are three dimensional, with emotions, faults and often a moral ambiguity. That doesn’t happen through one episode of a TV show, but over several seasons, by adding layer upon layer of subtlety and nuance. “But I don’t have time for that,” you say. You don’t have time to build a billion dollar franchise, but you do have time to muddle along, creating mediocre, utterly forgettable, short-term programs?
The Halo and Grand Theft Auto franchises have done a great job as well. These have now become part of the mainstream, generating profits that rank them with the biggest global movie blockbusters. What separates them from other video games, even popular ones, is the paradigm-shifting level of story they have created.
While it’s clear that certain genres are more adaptable to become DINUs, I think the concept can be translated to brands as well. Starbuck’s has a DINU, so do Nike, Apple and Guinness. Their corporate histories and the people that played a roll in creating the brands all add up to a narrative that people want to explore.
The DINU will be a recurring theme on eyecube, where we will explore some of the most popular examples, examine why other franchises or brands don’t, or can’t make the leap that DINUs have and take a look at others that might be able to. Please feel free to share in this conversation.