The most wonderful American sitcom is ‘Cheers’.
And the most wonderful Cheers characters are Norm Peterson and his wife, Vera Peterson.
In almost all of the 257 Cheers episodes.
Norm sits on his stool at the far end of the bar.
And Norm’s wife Vera is at home.
And in each Cheers episode, little stories – just like this one – are told.
*BAR PHONE RINGS IN CHEERS*.
Oh; hi Mrs. Peterson!
Yes, Norm’s here.
*TURNS TO NORM*
It’s for you.”
*HANDS PHONE TO NORM*.
Oh; hi Vera.
Woah slow down!”
“I don’t know where it is.
Under the stairs?”
“In the garage?
OK well keep lookin’.
I’ll be home later.
*NORM PUTS PHONE DOWN AND SLIDES IT BACK ACROSS THE BAR TO WOODY.*
*NORM CONTINUES, HUNCHED OVER, TO DRINK BEER.*
“Is everything OK Mr. Peterson?”
“Yeah; I dunno Woody.
I dunno why Vera always has to bother me here at Cheers.
Something about, (*PUTS ON VERA’S VOICE*), ‘have you seen the fire extinguisher?’.
I dunno Woody.”
*NORM SHAKES HEAD*
“Weeeell; did you ask Mrs. Peterson why she was looking for the fire extinguisher Mr. Peterson?
Should I have?”
Voice and visuals.
When your brand speaks, it should sound like you.
Every single word.
Should sound like you.
Yet when I meet people, for the first time, that run businesses.
And then look at their websites.
I almost always know what it is going to say there – before I look.
And I almost always know how it is going to say it – before I look.
There is absolutely no unique voice.
Technically, this is ‘category marketing’ when it comes to message and simply ‘copying’ when it comes to tone.
The business is saying what everyone else in the same category is saying – and in the same way.
It is, if you like, a strange kind of painting by numbers.
Because painting by numbers is soulless.
Norm and Vera.
Norm and Vera are beautifully painted characters.
We know Norm and we know what to expect from Norm by the end of episode one.
And from then on in he is consistent.
He is, well, Norm.
And what is more incredible is that Vera behaves just like Vera too.
Every time she appears in the story.
And more incredible still is that Vera never actually appears in person in any of the 257 episodes**.
You never actually see her.
Yet you still know her.
And you know what to expect from her.
And this is why all brands have absolutely no excuse for not painting characterful, soulful, memorable, meaningful, ownable and compelling persona.
It is key to the creation and longevity of all brands.
Tell your story.
And – because it’s hard – if you can’t find it tell it exceptionally well, invest in getting someone to find and tell it for you.
The greatest stories in the world are told by and about the greatest characters in the world.
Whether this be sitcoms or brand stories.
The rules are the same.
And if you don’t know what the rules are – work with someone that does.
Because a story untold, or a story told badly – is exactly the same as no story at all.
And no story at all – whether you like it or not – means no brand.
**Vera did actually appear in just one of the 257 episodes.
The food fight episode.
But as she had a fruit pie thrown in her face, you didn’t actually ‘see’ her.
Oh, and Vera’s pie faced character is played by Norm (George Wendt’s) wife in real life.