A true story can make anything memorable, "The Legend of the Ducks"
During a recent trip, I encountered a hotel, The Peabody, that focuses its identity on ducks - yes, ducks! At first glance this seemed like a whimsical, cutesy attempt at being different. However, while eating lunch I encountered an interesting story that made me reconsider.
On a bar napkin, written out was "The Legend of the Ducks". The story took me on a concise journey about an employee returning from a hunting trip and placing some live decoy ducks in the Peabody fountain – a tradition that continues today. Wait, what?…continues today?! I was intrigued and talked up the waiter to get details.
The hotel has a Duckmaster that cares for five Mallard ducks and trains them to do the Peabody Duck March. This story just keeps getting better! Every day at 11am, the ducks are escorted into an elevator, taken down to the lobby floor, and march across the red carpet into a fountain. When I saw this for myself, I was in awe - much like the children standing around me.
Long story short, a tradition that started from an employee's seemingly odd decision, led to my taking the time to dig deeper – which I did not think I had time for – and creating a memorable experience of my own that I can happily share with others.
Key Takeaway: A brand is only as good as the story that shapes it and the underlying experience that reinforces it again and again. My initial perception of The Peabody Hotel was misguided, and would have been the story I shared with others, if I remembered it at all. This experience illustrates that no matter how interesting or valuable your brand is, without a compelling story that can be remembered and shared, people will be left to create their own, which is typically not accurate nor in your best interest. Instead of getting frustrated with people who can't seem to understand what you do or why it's important, look inward to highlight the unique, and maybe whacky, character that forms the seeds of a memorable, true story.