Winter Olympics, antiques, beer, Cheerios

The Winter Olympics reminds us of just how important the creation story is. Imagine the confluence of hundreds of athletes without the video clips showing them as young athletes back home. Every athlete in the spotlight has the obligatory rolling footage of them as a three year-old in skis, skates, or bobsledding downhill on a piece of cardboard. With this background, the athletes would be anonymous. (Worse, we’d have to make up our own minds about them.) As Jack Trout says, the creation story is often at the heart of being successful.

The creation story is important in other industries who get far less spotlight. The antiques business, for example, would be dead without the all-important provenance. The provenance provides a family tree for the piece—who made it, who owned it, where it came from. In other words, the creation story. Without the provenance, even the most attractive pieces are just old furniture or Aunt Mary’s junk. In fact, the parallel intrigue of The Antiques Roadshow is not just how much the piece is suddenly worth, but the stories of where it came from.

Wanna have a beer? While we readily recognize the lineage of Anheuser-Busch (the latest heir being Augie IV), the creation story of Miller has been lost. Add up the icons of Clyesdales, the A-B eagle, Bud bottle and other pieces of primal code (just as a start) and you can see why Miller is eclipsed by Budweiser.

Rob Walker’s recent piece in New York Times Magazine points out the “loyalty beyond reason” enjoyed by its breakfast cereal Cheerios. The product is finally reaching its soul thanks, in part, to David Atshul’s Character Camp. At Camp, marketers learn that their product storyline is just as important as their features and benefits. The creation story for Cheerios is often simply, “That’s the cereal we always ate for breakfast when I was a kid.”

That’s the kind of provenance that leads to loyalty beyond reason.

[Primal Branding is a construct that lets you design belief systems that create communities and surround products, services, personality brands, social and political movements, even civic communities. Belief systems are constructed with the primal code, a holisitc group that includes a creation story, creed, icons, rituals, sacred words, nonbelievers, and a leader. Used together–not separately–the primal code attracts people who want to share your beliefs, which ultimately creates communities of two or two billion.]