“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
I read this quote in a recent New Yorker article (titled “Mr. Green”) about Amory Lovins, an environmentalist, conservationist, and all around smart guy who is thinking of ways to save energy and save the planet from pollution, global warming, and all that garbage humans produce. He was using the quote to show how to get people to understand the benefits of fuel efficiency, alternate power, etc.
It also applies to what we do as marketers, designers, and storytellers. What kind of results can you expect from saying, “buy this product?” Present the story and the idea. Show, “what’s in it for me?” Not what’s in it for the company (or the boat builder), what’s in it for the person buying the product and the dream.
If you truly want people to believe in your brand, teach them to yearn for it. Not for the carbonated water, technology, or whatever your products or services are made of. The brand story is why people have relationships with brands. There are so many products out there. The thing that makes them different are their stories. (But make sure you’re telling a truthful story. If you’re going to tell a lie, they’re going to hate you. All Marketers are Liars by Seth Godin is a great book about this.)
Substance isn’t about building ships.
PS: There’s another (somewhat related) quote in the article that I also thought was great. Not really sure how it fits in, and it probably applies better to Amory’s cause and crusade, but I wanted to share it… it just gives me chills.
“After the final no there comes a yes, and on that yes the future world depends.” – Wallace Stevens
(I know it somehow applies to what we’re doing… will have to think about that a bit more…)