The Role of Mobile in the Transmedia Brand Narrative

Sep 19, 2011

Scott Forshay

The essence of any coveted brand is the story it tells.  Its history conveys mystery, passion, and intrigue and creates in consumers an insatiable desire to be among a select few bit players in the theatricality of the brand experience. These narratives are communicated through a variety of channels.  Artful photography displayed in print tells a tale.  The runway provides the dramatic stage.  The store is the epicenter of the encounter.  Digital media voices a story and the shared experience platform enabled by social media allows the consumer to contribute to the brand dialogue.

Successful brands tell stories and deliver experiences through each medium uniquely, artfully orchestrating events that leverage the inherent strengths of each in an ornamental array of disconnected, yet consistent, transmedia vignettes. The question remaining to be effectively addressed, however, is how best to weave these disconnected encounters together in a more unified fashion – how best to allow consumers the ability to carry the narrative with them, irrespective of time or space.  That is, until now.

The mobile medium is inherently transitive in nature, providing the vehicle for consumers to navigate an ever-evolving ecosystem of digital screens. Aware of location, sensitive to time, and ever connected, the mobile medium delivers contextual relevance to brand communications and allows marketers to truly engage consumers in the moment.  Unlike other more stationary channels for consumer interaction, successful strategies for mobile marketing require precision aim at moving targets.

Given that the targets are in motion, intelligent planning requires a fundamental shift in approach.  Conventional wisdom advocates a right audience + right message + right time methodology designed to entice a stationary audience.  In mobile, the same principles don’t necessarily apply.  Rather than marketing at the target with brand-centric storytelling wherever and however they may encounter you, allow the tale to travel along with them as they go. Communicate the narrative with an episodic structure and allow the medium to reveal ensuing chapters in a continuum of branded engagements that create a journey with the brand.  In this strategy, consumers live the brand story as if they were on the page.  The narrative is not unidirectionally told to the consumer but, rather, allowed to unfold before their eyes, as they become actors in the theatre of the experience.

While not flawless in its approach, the Amble with Louis Vuitton iPhone application provides a structural framework in line with the point of the mobile medium being transitive in nature.  The tale established by LV is consistent with its other media narratives that focus on the art of travel and the chic traveller lifestyle that its brand adherents aspire to as they look to LV guidance as preeminent subject matter experts.

The Art of Travel is woven into the DNA of the brand and, as such, it has ventured to produce an application designed to enrich the travel experience and narrate day-to-day urban discoveries of both famously recognizable “friends of the house” as well as Amblers among its brand proponents.  Utilizing location recognition, the application serves various ambles that are submitted, specific to the user’s current coordinates, and allows them to travel similar paths that accentuate the LV Art of Travel interaction and provide a deeper sense of connection with the house and its vision of chic travel.

The mobile medium is unique in its ability to transport the brand’s narrative in transmedia storytelling models.  Given that the device is ever connected, contextually relevant, and always within arms’ reach, the opportunities for brand marketers to engage consumers with consistency, relevance, and personalization are tremendous.  By effectively leveraging digital engagement triggers such as QR codes, image recognition, SMS, or with the advent of NFC, marketers can breathe digital life into traditional unidirectional communications via smartphone devices.  Transporting the brand story from television and print by digitizing and connecting the offline experience via a portable medium allows the consumer to carry the brand’s tale across channels to deliver upon the promise of compelling transmedia storytelling models.

 

Photo credits: Thomas Guignard