Is your brand a myth, story or legend?


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I admit I wasn’t paying adequate attention when my elementary school teacher covered this but as someone who works with and writes about “legendary” brands I now have a compelling interest….and so should you.

How would you categorize your company? …. a myth, story or a legend.  Here are some quick definitions to aid your consideration:

Myth – A fiction or half-truth, especially one that forms part of an ideology

Story – A real or fictional account or report regarding an event or group of events

Legend – a story that is carried by its audience, often gaining some of the audience’s own perspective

In his book, entitled Legendary brands, Laurence Vincent suggests that “legendary brands forge deep bonds with consumers through narrative devices.  They are storytellers, drawing from a library of timeless narratives… to captivate consumers and sustain meaning across cultural borders.  It is the narrative of the Legendary Brand that generates and sustains customer affinity.”

While I completely agree with Laurence that timeless narratives are essential to becoming a legendary brand, I also see the role of compelling brand experiences.  It is through these types of experiences that customers advance your brand’s story.  Many branding firms look at the intersection of story and customer experience in defining what is legendary.

Legendary brands I write books about like Starbucks, the Pike Place Fish Market, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company (and my upcoming book about Zappos) have a corporate storyline melded with rich stories of customer experience excellence.

Take Zappos’ storyline for example.  At the corporate level Zappos is “powered by service.”  Essentially, their epic and timeless story is that of a small company founded by a couple of college friends whose persistence and unorthodox “weird style” beat all the odds and parlayed a company to billion dollar revenues and a billion dollar buy out largely on the strength of their service.

On the customer experience side, it is as simple as a recent tweet  by Jon Ferrara, “My son wrote Zappos a letter & they sent him back a book on Company Culture personally signed by the entire management team”.  Great customer experiences join with the overarching story line and the audience/consumer carries the conversation forward to build lore and legend.

What’s your company’s story line?

How can you increase the level of customer experiences so that your audience carries forward your stories and make them legend?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joseph Michelli, Ph.D.
Joseph Michelli, Ph.D., an organizational consultant and the chief experience officer of The Michelli Experience, authored The New Gold Standard: 5 Leadership Principles for Creating a Legendary Customer Experience Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and the best-selling The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary Into Extraordinary.


  1. Joseph, thanks for this article. A business person honestly asking this question of themselves (“Is Your Brand a myth, story or legend?” will find many answers revealed – some of which may be uncomfortable.

    Trust is one of the key ingredients in a good brand – especially today in the online world where both good and bad experiences can be magnified exponentially. Maintaining high levels of mutual trust help to create legendary brands, but screw it up once and the legend becomes a myth.

    The increasing importance of trusted brands is one of 25 digital age trends I discuss in the Digital TrendCatcher Guide which is a valuable free digital book available from

    The guide also details a business planning approach to use the trends to plan for better business online.

    I hope you and others enjoy the guide, and again, thanks for your article which raises a very important question for business owners and managers to consider.

    Richard Keeves

  2. Richard, I will grab a copy of the ebook! Yes, honest appraisal is hard but essential to cogent business design. Thanks for engaging in discussion.


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