Pack your proof in a bento box

October 28th, 2009
bento box

Promoting a single product attribute is a gamble. Last week I opened the morning newspaper to find a full page color ad about tomato soup, of all things! Campbell’s was touting its use of a sea salt so “naturally flavorful” that it could reduce the sodium in its iconic product.

I questioned the relevance of the nutrition claim. And considered a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup – my favorite comfort foods – for lunch. My nostalgia for the brand was stronger than the potential benefits of a natural sodium booster.

What makes proof palatable? I vote for a variety of essential ingredients to make a compelling story. Let’s call it the Bento Box Effect.

Making a bento meal, imaginative food displays in sectioned boxes, goes back centuries in Japan.  National contests are held in the craft of creating a colorful box lunch in a container about the size of book. Deciding what colors, textures, flavors to feature must be a big part of the design challenge.

Kenya Hara, who designed the opening and closing ceremonies of the Nagano Winter Olympics, weighed in on the beauty behind bento box lunches.  While the Japanese are known for an aesthetic sense, Hara notes they also have an incapacity to see ugliness:

“We have a special ability to focus fully on what’s right in front of our eyes. We tend to ignore what is not an integral part of our personal perspective.

We ignore that our cities are a chaotic mess, filled with ugly architecture and nasty signage. And so you have the situation where a Japanese worker will open a beautiful bento box in a stale conference room or on a horrendous, crowded sidewalk.”

Each compartment of a bento box presents a different taste sensation. Collectively, the compartments add up to an alluring and satisfying diversion. A story with the right ingredients has the same appeal for routine business dialogues.

What if you packed a bento box of proof to enliven today’s conversations?  Here are three ingredients sure to bring a richer dimension to an otherwise mundane communication:

  • A dose of humanity — Tell a story from the point of view of a real person who matters to your company’s success.
  • Genuine differentiation — Share the truth about one thing you’re doing better than your closest competitors.
  • Winning practices and principles — Your company is strong. Describe a company practice that makes you proud.

Too often we rely on statistics alone to support marketing and sales messages. Numbers make an impact but they’re difficult to digest quickly. Try packing a bento box of proof that’s real, true and strong. Add the points to your next presentation, conversation or collateral draft. That’s enough to make anyone pause right in the middle of their tuna sandwich.

Posted October 28th, 2009

Author: Categories: Message Development, Storytelling Tags:
  1. Kirk Brewer
    October 30th, 2009 at 16:48 | #1

    What a great way to think about building proof/support for your brand, product, mission, message, etc. Thanks!

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