I recently went to  a great course on negotiations. If I boil what I learnt down to one key learning it would be that negotiations rely on our ability to create trust, be authentic and create value for each party involved. The first two are part of my Brand storytelling manifesto but the third, value creation, makes a great addition. During the course there was much discussion about the role of stories in negotiation, Stories that showed authenticity. Stories that develop trust.

I thought about brand planning as a negotiation and developed the thought that the stories we tell to help people connect to our brands can fall into four categories.

Value Creation
Value Claiming
Value Avoidance
Value Destroying

The most successful brand plans I have seen were those that unconsciously told stories of value creation. But all to often I see brand plans of value avoidance or worse value destroying. The biggest change though needs to come from the move away from value claiming (how much can I get) and cerate plans that create value (How can I add value).

If plans are only as good at the implementation then stories that demonstrate the elements of good negotiation are needed in a great plan. We need to think how these stories tell the audience to trust us, show that we are authentic, that appeal to our emotional drives and create additional value for the listener.  When we get these right we create brand equity and these act as negotiation anchors. Get it right and you create value for you and your customers. If you consistently tell value claiming stories or worse destroying stories you create negative negotiation anchors and this I think in contrast to value creation is the difference between creating brand fans and transient customers.

It would be interesting to look at the stories your brand plan communicates. Is it consistent with your advertising and communication plan? Ask yourself,  what value are you creating for your customers and how do you tell them about it?