What Stage Fright Teaches Us About Brand Messaging

Read Time: 5 Minutes

I’ve been performing onstage for the vast majority of my life. Oddly enough, something I have yet to experience is any sort of stage fright or that butterflies in your stomach feeling every performer talks about. So I started thinking, why on earth can’t I conjure up the nerves or anxiety to experience this sort of masochistic catharsis every other performer seems to love going through each time they are onstage? I’m honestly a bit jealous.

Then it occurred to me that I may just look at an audience differently. For whatever reason, from the very beginning of my performing career, I have never looked at a crowd as a singular mob of people taking in a performance as a group. Being be the realist that I am, I have always viewed a crowd as a mass of individuals experiencing a performance in their own singular way. In a sense, you’re not performing for a massive group, you are playing for one person at a time, and these tiny personal performances just happen to be going on all at once. That’s how my simple mind tends to view it, anyway. So what does this mean, and how the hell does it relate to Evangalist or advertising in general?

The way I see it relating to corporate messaging is that organizations typically seem to want to be onstage performing to everyone at once. They try to give a great performance and tell a broad story that will apply to a large mass of people, being sure to not alienate anyone along the way. The danger is that in trying to say something to everyone, you end up saying nothing at all. This isn’t done because of stage fright, but because of a different kind of fear. The fear of missing out on a potential customer.

Very often in Storyboarding meetings, we ask clients who their target audience is. Their best customers, who they’d like to appeal to most. An answer we hear too often is “Well, we’d like everybody!” Not only is this too idealistic to be helpful, it’s also harmful to the overall messaging strategy. As the marketplace’s appetite for unique, custom experiences grows, brands are obligated to treat each member of their audience as an individual. If they want to succeed, they have to work diligently to understand how they fit into their customers’ stories. Not just find clever ways to shout their own brand story from the rooftops to an audience of none.

When you build a website, for example, you can’t just come up with an experience that will serve every visitor the same way. You have to carefully craft singular experiences within the site that each of your unique target personas will connect with and appreciate as it relates specifically to them. Modern consumers want to take control of how they experience brands, so if you don’t give them to the tools to do that, you’re setting them and yourself up for failure.

That may sound harsh, but it’s the honest truth. When we talk about telling a brand’s story, they assume we’re talking about how they were founded or how they want to change the world. But that’s not what consumers want to hear. They want to know how you’re going to impact and change their individual life. And consumers have every right to feel and act that way. We in the business world should feel honored to be a part of making their stories and lives just a tiny bit better whenever we can. That’s what we all profess to be in business for in the first place, right?