This Week’s Top Brand Storytellers: LEGO, Getty Images and Sheryl Sandberg  

Brand |


Each week, Pilot brings you a roundup of the best—and occasionally the worst—examples of brand storytelling in the business. Here are our top five picks this week from around the world:

A PhD in LEGO studies?

LEGO officially grew up and is about to start college. Cambridge University’s Faculty of Education and the LEGO Foundation have created a LEGO professorship to “support research in the field of play in education, development, and learning in the University.” LEGO profits from play, so now it’s giving some of that money back to the activity that made it so successful. The LEGO Foundation is also helping fund a research centre devoted to the subject, supported by a £2.5 million endowment to be held in trust by the university. LEGO’s message to consumers? We engage children in life-long learning – and that makes us more than just a block-building company.

Getty, Sandberg remind us that dads do dishes, too!

Getty Images’ cupboard of daddy photos was pretty bare back in 2007, and the ones the company did have were of men doing stereotypical “dad” stuff: playing football, drinking beer, fishing, etc. Just in time for Father’s Day, Lean In Together, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s foundation for gender equality, partnered with Getty to create photos of men fully participating in family life: dads reading stories to their kids, doing household chores and hanging out with their daughters. Visual representation is a critical and often overlooked aspect of great storytelling (what’s that old saying about a picture being worth a thousand words?). With Lean in Together, Getty and Sanderg are helping millions of users bring their own visual storytelling in-line with a more modern view of what it means to be a dad.

Lessons from real-life “metaphor designers”

Can metaphors be designed? Absolutely, says real-life metaphor designer Michael Erard. Metaphors take familiar things and use them to explain new concepts by bridging the familiar and the unknown. They are “pseudo mistakes” – Is life really a journey? Are words really weapons? – but they are mistakes that can be universally understood. Erard encourages us to make as many of these “pseudo mistakes” as possible, and then to test each one. Strong metaphors elicit deep and immediate understanding, and can serve as the foundation to your brand story. They can even make effective brand names. Consider Safari, Internet Explorer, Kayak and, yours truly, Pilot.

The dream of the 90s is… a Crystal Pepsi comeback?

After posting a video of himself chugging—and vomiting—a 1993 Crystal Pepsi, YouTube star L.A. Beast launched a Twitter campaign to bring the old Pepsi drink back. Pepsi sent him a letter using Crystal Pepsi letterhead and a 90s typewriter font, hinting that he may be the reason for the return of the nostalgic drink. Pepsi showed L.A. Beast and his fans that the company values its customers’ input, and will try to change things when asked to do so—all while engaging with Mr. Beast through humour and spectacle, which is how he himself engages with his fans. Okay, this may be more spectacle than storytelling, but like good storytelling, it all began with a deep and nuanced understanding of Pepsi’s online fan space.

Evan Spiegel maintains millennials aren’t mysteries

Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel will present at Cannes Lions about millennials and creativity—and boy, oh boy, are the industry’s creative godfathers stoked to learn about this enigmatic group. Eighty per cent of Snapchat’s 30 million users are between 13 and 34 years’ old, and Spiegel, himself only 25, creates his app for them. His top-line advice for capturing waning millennial attention spans? “Think vertical” (don’t make users flip their phones horizontally to watch a video) and avoid targeted ads (they’re creepy). But his best advice of all is to build apps you yourself would use. If you’re a millennial like Spiegel, exactly what that means should be, well, obvious.





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