This Week’s Top Brand Storytellers: Spotify, Bris

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:

 Spotify offers running playlists

The music streaming company is introducing pre-made playlists that use smartphone sensors to change tempo according to your running pace. Spotify is also offering original content hosted by celebrities such as Tyler, the Creator and Odd Future. By offering these new, personalized services—many of which contain songs or playlists unattainable on other streaming platforms—the brand is signalling that it can adjust to more than just your running speed.

Dr. Jean Kelso Sandlin on delivering “delight”

PR professionals focus too much on media stunts, according to Sandlin, an assistant professor of communications at California Lutheran University. “PR stunts may garner media impressions, but they rarely make meaningful impressions that foster a persistent change in people’s attitudes, knowledge or behaviors,” she says. Instead of delivering stunts, organizations should deliver “delights” – unexpected interactions that more closely relate customers to your brand. Sounds a lot like great brand storytelling to us.

Abused Emoji helps kids report abuse  

Bris, a Swedish non-profit, has created emojis that help kids more easily report abusive situations to their texting buddies. The abusive emojis include a sad face with a bandage, a baby getting slapped and a father with a wine glass. Bris tapped in to its target audience—abused children—by giving them a “delightful” new feature on a device they already use. Professor Sandlin would definitely approve.

United Airlines’ crowdsourcing Bug Bounty Program

United Airlines is inviting researchers to uncover security bugs in its online platforms. In addition to helping the airline create safer websites, apps and online portals, researchers who find bugs receive frequent flyer points—the worse the bug, the bigger the points. United Airlines’ Bug Bounty Program boldly demonstrates a let’s exhaust-all-conceivable-options approach to privacy, safety and customer service. Just don’t start rooting around United’s onboard WiFi and in-flight systems—that, the airline insists, could get you removed from your flight and charged for criminal activity.

Jonah Lehrer’s take on the power of redemption stories

Why does everyone love the story of the underdog making it to the big leagues? Writer Jonah Lehrer explores our psychological love affair with the redemption story, drawing, in typical Lehrer-fashion, on the latest academic research to show how these stories “frame our lives, shape our personalities and influence our behaviour.” After resigning from The New Yorker in 2012 over fabricated quotes he had attributed to Bob Dylan in his book, Imagine, perhaps Lehrer is still looking for a redemption story of his own?