It can be a precise event or moment, or something more intangible such as a feeling of injustice or rebellion, a challenge to the status quo in your industry. The trigger is also the first point of contact between your brand and your audience -it’s the perfect occasion to draw them into your story.
“No tension, no story.”
Keep in mind that…
A good trigger puts tension in your brand story. As science-fiction author Eric Nylund says, “No tension, no story.” The trigger creates tension by casting a doubt, challenging the status quo, highlighting a problem or encouraging a change in the current context. Take American luxury design brand Shinola. Shinola was founded in Detroit in 2011, a city hit hard by de- industrialisation and the Great Depression. Reacting to that context, Shinola set out to “bring back a bygone era of quality and integrity” to the heartland of American manufacturing.
While in many cases the trigger exists to elicit tension between the brand and its context, some brands choose to engage with their audience instead. The trigger becomes a call to action, or even a manifesto. Such is the case for controversial fashion brand Philipp Plein, whose trigger appears to be a message to its audience: “Life is too short to be boring.”
Brand Storytelling Handbook
It is tempting to think a brand story can have multiple triggers. After all, people, organisations and markets form a complex ecosystem. So why choose just one starting point? The fact of the matter is that multiple triggers relating to different events or beliefs rarely converge later on in the story. It creates confusion and can lead to a suboptimal resource allocation when it comes to communication. Picking just one trigger is best, and adapting the context if need be to start creating a logical “golden thread” to run through your entire story.
Questions to ask yourself
- Does your trigger create tension in your story?
- Is your trigger focused on the context or on your audience? In both cases, is it relatable to your audience?
- Does your trigger fit with your overall brand narrative?
- Is your trigger credible? Is it interesting enough for your audience to want more?