I’m currently reading the Little House on the Prairie series with my six year old.  For those not familiar, this is the story of a little girl and her pioneer family, set in the late 1800s.  My daughter is captivated, curled up beside me on the bed each night, begging for just one more chapter.

What’s fascinating to me is what she’s absorbing from the story and how it’s changing her behavior.  A few weeks ago, I was fighting a losing battle each morning trying to get her to put her long hair up for school.  She refused to listen to reason, and I was beyond exasperated about having to wash the gum, glue, and who knows what out of her hair on a daily basis.

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Now, she’s wearing braids to school (the book tucked under her arm) and replying “Yes Ma” every time I ask her to do something.  I know that part won’t last, but the idea that she might be emulating Laura and Mary’s manners fills me with hope.  Is it possible that one story could alter her belief system in a way that has a positive, long-term affect on her behavior?  The thought makes me want to move out onto the prairie, build a log cabin with my bare hands, and watch her make do with a corn husk doll.  (Almost.)  But perhaps there is a less dramatic lesson here.

This is about storytelling. The terrific lessons the Little House series has to offer my six year old are getting through because she can relate, both to the author and the way the ideas are being shared.  I’m not nagging her to put her hair up, because she sees the value for herself.  The practicality is being demonstrated, not dictated. Laura Ingalls Wilder isn’t telling her to do it—she's showing her why it matters.

You know I’m not really talking about my daughter anymore, right?  Storytelling is an important tool in your brand building program, a strategy that goes beyond maintaining a consistent voice and tone.  It’s an authentic and engaging way to share your core beliefs with your target audience and help them understand your mission, not just your current product.  It’s a tactic that requires finding the right context, demonstrating common ground, and providing a reason to believe.

Tell your target who you are instead of trying to get them to do something, and you might just alter their beliefs about you.  You might influence their behavior. And you might pick up a new, more loyal customer.

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