Tuesday, September 04, 2007

the power of myth

I just finished Big Fish by Daniel Wallace. It's a charming story about the life of a legendary man - Edward Bloom - dutifully told by his son. The narrative hinges on the idea that over time, man and myth have become inseparable. Truth, hyperbole and fabrication have been churned up and gooped out in mouthfuls too sweet to scrutinize.

Here comes the brand bit:

The power of myth is immeasurable. In this wiki-twitter-sphere of a world we live in, ideas become myth the moment they pop into existence: reinvented; retold; forgotten and recalled. This is just the way it is. You can't stop it. You shouldn't want to. In fact, the most loved brands are built on myths - started within the company and moulded by fans.

There's a lovely bit in the book which is a reminder of this and why brands should be giving people the inspiration and tools to build their own story - not carve it for them in stone:

"In Specter [the town Edward Bloom inspired], history becomes what never happened. People mess things up, forget and remember all the wrong things. What's left is fiction. [...] It doesn't matter; the story keeps changing. All of the stories do. [...] the townspeople's memories take on a peculiar tint, their voices loud in the morning when, during the night, they might have remembered something else that never happened, a story good enough to share with others, a new twist, a lie compounded daily."

Sound familiar?

Creative agencies also trade on a similar culture of myth and we, like the townspeople of Specter, filter and spread it. This isn't a bad thing. We love stories and truth is only a part of the mix.

Here's to myths.



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