What is your brand’s BNA?
Brands are coming against powerful monsters and need new weapons in their arsenal to fight back. The BNA is just such a weapon.
The other day I read a publication in National Geographic that began like so, “It might seem as though at first sight a human and a grain of rice do not appear to be cousins. However, we share a quarter of our genes with this humble plant.” The article went on to specify what percentages of our genetics we shared with various species, like mice (88%), cows (85%), dogs (84%), chickens (65%), and fruit flies (47%). And among humans, all of us across the planet share amongst each other 99.9% of our genes. Therefore, the difference between any of us and Gandhi, J.K. Rowling, Albert Einstein, Frances McDormand, or Federico Fellini resides in that infinitesimal 0.1%. Certainly our genetic codes all wire for two legs, two eyes, and a single nose (if all goes correctly), and yet, it’s in this miniscule difference within our genes that makes us each singularly unique.
Today, when brands are finding themselves challenged by the monumental task of differentiating themselves, the National Geographic article may actually teach us something. What distinguishes a brand from another resides less and less in the products themselves, the technology, processes, or innovation because in the perception of the consumer there are little to no differences. On the other hand, the success or failiure of a brand depends more and more on the story that it is capable of telling. A story that engages reason and emotions alike and is capable of transforming itself as well as its audience.
After so many years operating within the world of advertising, I am witnessing how brands are having to face new threats, larger ones every day; uncontrollable commoditization is affecting all categories, the pulverization of audiences and the media, and multiculturalism. These are threats for which traditional tools are no longer relevant and for which we will need to return to the basics and seek the answers to these threats in the intrinsic power of stories. Whose power has been demonstrated throughout milenia, from Homer to Spielberg, and whose power is rooted deeply in the fundamental workings of the human brain.
In recent times, while creating stories for brands, it has become evident to me that the most powerful element that best represents the transformative journey of a story on which a brand has invited its audient to join in on, is the Narrative Arc. The Narrative Arc develops coherently along a period of time and drives the brand as well as its audience towards a substantial growth or transformation. From there, and thanks with our collaboration with SCPF*, an advertising agency, we developed a new weapon for brand management called BNA (Brand Narrative Arc.)
The BNA of a brand depends directly on certain elements that shape their story, such as their values and antagonists, their mission statement, their plot, and their archetype. As the product of an infinite number of possible combinations of these various and varied elements, a BNA is singularly unique to a brand and can never be replicated, much in the same way as human DNA. Thanks to the BNA it’s possible to construct a solid strategy of communication, becomes effective at the hour of guiding the actions of both internal and external entities within a brand, and, most importantly, allows for a coherent sequence of actions along an extended period of time.
The BNA is a transformative concept that allows us to defy the rules that are entrenched in the industry, impel a change within the industry, and engage clients in asking questions like “what is the BNA of my brand? What is the unique Narrative Arc that my company, and only my company, can execute? What is the journey on which my brand is taking different audiences?” Answering these questions is the first step in the process of finding and unleashing a story for the brand that will guide and accompany it for many steps to come.