How Google helps prevent suicide (and other tales of changing the story).

Sadly, sometimes the story of someone’s life can feel like it shouldn’t go on.  And sometimes a brand can step in and not enable its premature ending.

I love this decision by Google.

This is a very specific event in a specific chapter in one grim personal story but it raises a topic around which we often get asked.

If you work with the stories of people’s lives,  aren’t you always dealing with existing stories?  Can’t companies and marketers introduce stories for people to live by?

Yes they can, and given certain marketing situations, they should.

Creating a new story to live by means that you are creating a new market within which your brand will not have any competitors (initially).  You are reframing the category and rewriting the rules in your favor (it is a story that features your brand after all).  All you have to do is convince people that your story is better than the ones they currently focus on.

Introducing new stories and “outfitting” them with a brand, products and services can lead to massive growth.  Some examples:

— Casual work and GAP (in the 90s).

— Organic and Whole Foods

— Hip-Hop and rappers and clothing brands like Phat Farm

— Zen in America led to everything from the rise of Yoga to the redesign of Westin Hotels.

Google didn’t enable a suicide story by offering immediate help.  The next logical step is for them is to introduce new stories that will lift these people out of despair.

"How Google helps prevent suicide (and other tales of changing the story)." by Scott
Posted in Brands Enabling Stories on Thursday, February 10th, 2011