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Cannes Lions Live 2021: Customer experience and being loyal to the brand’s truth are vital to telling compelling stories

Neil Lindsay, VP, WW Prime and Marketing at Amazon and Yuval Noah Harari, historian and author of the bestselling book, Sapiens discuss how brands can tell compelling stories

(L) Neil Lindsay and Yuval Noah Harari (R)

Storytelling is an everyday exercise that is ever evolving as brands must push themselves towards big ideas and goals. But they should also stay honest and loyal to the brand’s idea, says Neil Lindsay, VP, WW Prime and Marketing, Amazon.

Discussing the nuances of compelling storytelling with Yuval Noah Harari, historian and author of the bestselling book, Sapiens, on the fourth day of Cannes Lions 2021, Lindsay said storytelling is a continuous process and brands must tell true stories about their obstacles and goals.

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“The most interesting brands tell stories that amplify the truth about overcoming real obstacles towards something worthwhile. The best stories, in my view, are the ones you do not want to put down because the goals and the challenges get bigger and bigger over time,” Lindsay said.

Harari said brands need to make a special effort to stay authentic to the truth as they build stories and their brands. He said there is a correlation between the evolution of brands and humans. “Brands are just stories that exist in our imagination. We created them to help people. Brands can't suffer and can't be happy, because they don't have any minds. Humans can suffer and humans can be happy. So yes, you must serve your brand and your profession and it's your job. But in the end, make sure that it's the humans who are happy, and not only the brands.”

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The importance of customer experience

Lindsay spoke about how keeping the consumer experience at the core has helped Amazon in its journey. He explained the concept of the Flywheel and how lower prices eventually deliver a better experience.

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“When you look at the flywheel, it fools you into thinking it is all about growth, but growth is a service to the lower cost structure. A lower-cost structure is in service of lower prices, and lower prices are really about delivering a great customer experience. Of course, if customers have a great experience, they likely talk about it to their friends,” he said.

“As we all know, word of mouth advertising is the best form of advertising because it's free. This advertising attracts traffic, traffic attracts sellers, and sellers bring more selection. Of course, more selection improves the customer experience," Lindsay explained.

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He briefly spoke about the importance of continuously telling your story as your goals and challenges also grow with time.

“This is certainly true for Amazon, where we have a lot of big ideas. Prime was and still is a big idea. Two-day shipping now becomes one day or even same-day shipping. Lots of great content with Prime Video. Big ideas like the climate pledge, where we're committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2040 and encourage a lot of other companies to join us. These things are hard, they're challenging, there are huge obstacles to making them happen that require a lot of invention, grit and frankly, a lot of risks. So I think chasing big ideas, delivering on the promise of those ideas and telling those stories effectively is what it takes to build a brand,” he added.

Asked how brands gain the public's trust, Lindsay said it is expected of corporations to work hard every day to earn and keep their customers' trust. He said trust is gained every day. Trust, he said, consists of competency, honesty and benevolence. “Competency clearly is saying, you're doing what you say you have to do. Honestly, it is making sure that you're not lying, at any point in time.”

“At Amazon, we work hard to deliver on time and have the right selection to be transparent about your motivations. For example, one of the reasons we encourage people to come and visit our fulfilment centres and see what the working experience really is. It's why we publish things such as our diversity goals and things like the climate pledge. We voluntarily acknowledge what our carbon footprint is, knowing that it's gonna be quite hard to achieve those goals.”

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