Book Review: Winning the Story Wars

Winning the Story Wars: Why Those who Tell–and Live–the Best Stories Will Rule the Future

by Jonah Sachs

Harvard Business Review Press, 2012

Maddie interviewed Jonah Sachs for an NTEN “Meet the Author” webinar, and once she read the book gave it to me with one of those “you HAVE to read this” recommendations. She was right.

Sachs is not the only one to write about the power of story. Dan Pink talks about it in A Whole New Mind, and of course story telling is deeply part of the human condition. We are story-telling creatures. But I really like how Sachs connects the power of story and the recent disconnect between marketing and storytelling that we have been experiencing in the last 100 years of the “broadcast” era. He talks about marketing’s “deadly sins” and “dark arts,” in contrast to the more powerful use of a coherent story that taps into classic myths (like the hero myth) that have been inspiring, guiding, and moving us to action for thousands of years.

And then he talks about how a brand can develop a story. Now, this made me nervous (I’m skeptical of most things that are about “brand” I must say), but I thought his case was compelling. Human beings so naturally connect to the story of the hero. Sachs himself saw great success with some PR campaigns he did where he made videos that used the classic hero stories of the Matrix and Star Wars to get across his points (he had me at “Matrix,” of course). In creating a “Brand Story,” you work on figuring out exactly how your customer/member is the hero (hence my recent “The Hero is You” post).

The book has some nice, concrete exercises that you can use to get some clarity about your own Brand story as well. This is a Must Read.