from the blog.

How GE used storytelling to change its brand image

Storytelling is a powerful tool for marketers. It can help customers to make sense of information and to create mental maps of brands that they can use to engage with products and services. 

In his latest book, “Storynomics,” Robert McKee, a celebrated screenwriter, writes about Story-Driven Marketing in the Post-Advertising World. According to McKee, “leader companies evolve into content marketing leaders when they move from sustained content creation to sustained storytelling.”

One example studied by McKee is GE. At the beginning of the 2010s, GE promoted a massive change from a traditional services business to what the company calls a digital industrial company. Now, it just needed to change the image of how engineers — their target audience for employment — saw the company. That is how they came up with Owen.

The campaign “What’s the Matter with Owen?” was centered around the character ops Owen, a young engineer who got a job with GE. The campaign shows the reactions from friends and family to the news. It uses the characters to deconstruct the traditional image of the company and reinforce the new branding. 

The result was so positive that a continuation of the campaign ran in 2016, now with Owen’s friends asking him if they can also work at GE. The emotional connection created by the message was strong enough to change the perception of the brand. All through the power of storytelling.

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