Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

Gabriel García Márquez: Advice to Marketers On Finding Brand Tone

How Brand Tone Unlocks Brand Voice In Building Brand Reputation

Gabriel García Márquez, the Colombian novelist whose "One Hundred Years of Solitude" established him as a giant of 20th-century literature, died last week at his home in Mexico City. He was 87.

Speaking to the Paris Review in 1981 García Márquez explained how early on he searched for the "right tone" in his writing, and in so doing shares insight for brand marketers of the importance in finding the correct tone to prompt audience engagement:

"I had an idea of what I always wanted to do, but there was something missing and I was not sure what it was until one day I discovered the right tone—the tone that I eventually used in One Hundred Years of Solitude. When I finally discovered the tone I had to use, I sat down [and wrote One Hundred Years of Solitude in 18 months]. 

[The tone I hit upon] was based on the way my grandmother used to tell her stories. She told things that sounded supernatural and fantastic, but she told them with complete naturalness. She did not change expression when telling her stories."

García Márquez continues:

"In previous attempts to write One Hundred Years of Solitude, I tried to tell the story without believing in it. I discovered that what I had to do was believe in them myself and write them with the same expression with which my grandmother told them: with a brick face."

The lesson?

Until García Márquez found the pitch perfect tone by which to express it, his distinct literary voice remained unheard.

Rather than interchangable, brand voice is WHAT you say, while brand tone is HOW you say it.

Stated another way, brand voice is about finding the point of view unique among competitors. Brand tone is the brand personality stepping forward with ease, expressing the humanity behind the product.

During the same interview, García Márquez offered this example of how finding tone to express voice made all the difference:  

"[There's] a journalistic trick which you can also apply to literature. For example, if you say there are elephants flying in the sky, people are not going to believe you. But if you say there are four hundred and twenty-five elephants flying in the sky, people will probably believe you. One Hundred Years of Solitude is full of that sort of thing. That's exactly the technique my grandmother used."

As Gabriel García Márquez shared so eloquently, in landing upon the correct tone by which to express his unique voice his literary writing began to resonate.

Leading to a worldwide following of avid readers.

For decades.

With a reputation now timeless.

A real world lesson for brand owners and marketers, everywhere. 


[Image: Gabriel García Márquez in Mexico City on March 29, 2004, © The Richard Avedon Foundation, Source: The New Yorker]

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