Last night I got a call from an ex-client of mine. He wanted to talk to me about some freelance--freelance that could turn into something big. We decided to meet this morning at a midtown hotel over breakfast.
Once we had ordered our aluminum-cut oats with artisanal hormone-free free-range berries and our cups of hand-picked fair-trade locally-roasted locavore coffee, we got down to business.
"George," he said "I'd like you to tell the story of our brand. We need to tell our brand story."
"You make faucets, yes? What kind of story do you need to tell?"
"Faucets, if you think about it, bring water. And water is the essence of..."
"That's good," I interrupted, "but what makes your faucets special? I need more to go on than just water."
"Well, we're the fourth largest manufacturer of faucets on the eastern seaboard."
"And you bring a century of faucet-making-prowess to every one?"
"No, actually, we import everything from a plant in Ghangzhou."
"I mean stories have plots. Characters. Conflict. Tension. What kind of story are you looking for?"
"Something that will get consumers to interact. Something they'll pass along. The start of a conversation!"
"A conversation about faucets?" I asked with more than a soupcon of incredulity.
"Yes, that's it," my friend was fairly frothing oats by now. "Something that speaks the brand's language and reveals the truth of who we are. Our story!"
"Well, I'll work on it but it won't be cheap."
We dickered for a moment and then arrived at a price.
"One last thing," he said. "I need it by Thursday."
I paid the bill.