Sometimes a good brand story builds subtly. It doesn’t take a large logo flashed across the page or a constant reminder of a company’s presence to market a brand effectively. You can tell an amazing story without ever mentioning your brand.
Not sure? Just take a look at Air Canada’s recent “Our Home” ad.
“Our Home” opens with a shot of a white house. The lighting is shadowy, and we hear rustling leaves before a narrator speaks the single word: “home.”
We see other buildings: townhouses (clearly In Newfoundland), and a number on the door to an apartment.
“It isn’t just a place,” says the narrator, as we see the face of a young woman smiling. We soon see that she’s playfully sneaking up on an older man working under the hood of a car. This young woman has come home, and the message is clear: home is about the people you love and the memories that you’ve made, and carry with you.
The ad proceeds to tell various stories: a group of people enjoy a family Christmas. The same young woman returns to her old bedroom and regards her youthful possessions with joy. A man removes costume jewelry, a wig, and false eyelashes as the narrator talks of home as a freedom to find ourselves, too. A bit of a forced nod to inclusivity? You decide.
An appearance of the maple leaf on a series of backpacks and hats is the first clear indication of where this is all going. We see helping hands pushing along stacks of aid supplies. A smiling boy fills the screen, waving, and as the camera pans back, we see it’s his image on a laptop being viewed tearfully by his father, a deployed soldier. “Home is where we leave,” the voice over tells us, “and immediately miss.”
In all this time, the brand isn’t mentioned. A product isn’t shown. We’re not being overtly sold anything in particular. We’re being told a story about home. And of course making this emotional association between home, powerful symbols of a helpful, benevolent Canada, and Air Canada itself is, ultimately, very good for the brand.
It’s only in the last ten seconds of the minute-and-a-half-long video that we see an airplane flying in the corner, small and nearly off-screen. “Fly the Flag,” the video suggests. A call to action, in the final seconds, finally replaced by the Air Canada logo.
Although the ad comes a little too close to patriotic shmaltz for my liking, it doesn’t cross that line—and that is to be applauded in an era where advertisers seems increasingly intent on leaving viewers tearful. The ad remains in the storytelling arena, focusing on a universal feeling about leaving and coming home. The ad taps into the emotion surrounding the idea of home.
And in staying there—rather than getting selly about it, or overly sentimental—Air Canada here demonstrates the importance of restraint. A good story can do so much more to endear a brand to a person than any amount of arm waving, in either direction.
It should remind you that when you are selling a service, in particular, it is important to think about the motivation behind the service and the emotion that using that service might evoke in your customers. Create stories that evoke those emotions, truthfully and meaningfully, to genuinely share who you are and what you do. That’s good content marketing.5