On 10 April, World Wide Creative hosted a Think Tank Thursday featuring South African author, Ron Irwin. Working as a lecturer in UCT’s Film and Media Studies Department as well as a brand consultant and novelist, Ron’s approach to content creation bridges the gap between storytelling and commercial branding. According to Ron, “narrative matters because it shapes lives and human perception.” Consider the way narrative helps to shape good behaviour in kids, using characters like the bogeyman and Father Christmas, and you’ll probably agree.
For Ron, the formula for a compelling brand narrative begins with one vital component: a character, with a desire.When that character takes steps to achieve that desire, modern magic happens. Consumers live vicariously through them, laugh with them, cry with them and most importantly, relate to them. It’s a winning formula.
Think of the first globally acclaimed brand that springs to mind – a brand like Harley Davidson. Its brand narrative began with four, fearlessly reckless young men with an unyielding desire to build a motorcycle. Their first experiment with internal combustion took place in a tiny wooden shed and their first motorcycle ran for over 100 000 miles under five owners.* It was the beginning of a brand legacy that consumers cannot resist buying into.
Today, content that exploits the effectiveness of narrative branding can be curated across a number of mediums from product labelling to social media. Ron pointed to the affinity that South Africans feel with the Proudly South African™ brand as a trademark that’s represented by the stories of local icons like Mark Shuttleworth and Mount Everest climber, Sibusiso Vilane. The Proudly South African™ logo signifies a national story that’s worth investing in.
As an author, Ron’s had his fair share of challenges when it comes to getting a novel published but by experimenting with narrative and really getting to understand the mind of the reader, he has achieved resounding success both locally and overseas.
Ron Irwin’s novel, Flat Water Tuesday was recently chosen by the American chain store, Target as its “Club Pick” for the month of May.
Thanks again Ron for the inspiration!