Once upon a brand… Introducing The Prisoner & The Penguin

Once upon a brand… Introducing The Prisoner & The Penguin

The notion of combining brands and storytelling is not a new one. There has been an awful lot written about it: mostly about the theory of storytelling and how you should go about doing it. Some of the work is very good and some is pretty poor.

Rather than add to the theory, The Prisoner and The Penguin is dedicated to the stories themselves. This website is a companion to the forthcoming book of the same name which will be published by LID in October 2013.

I believe that every brand has at least one story to tell and in The Prisoner & The Penguin there are be 76 such stories. There are the stories about some of the world’s most famous brands: Nike, Disney, Google, Coca Cola, Volkswagen and Virgin.


The book tells the stories about…

Why a prisoner asked for a penguin

How research amongst 250,000 people led to one of the biggest marketing disasters of all time

How a spelling mistake led to the creation of one of the world’s most famous brand names

How saying No to a pitch won a new agency a new account

There are stories about branding, innovation, strategy and communication and, trying (rather grandly) to follow in the tradition of Aesop, each story concludes with a short moral. 

I really believe that storytelling can be so much more than entertainment; it is one of the most effective educational tools in history. “The Prisoner and The Penguin” is on one level a grown-up storybook about brands but hopefully it can also be instructive and maybe even inspirational book for others.

In this blog my aim is to share some more and different brand stories, to talk a little bit about the book – how I started collecting stories, where I get my stories from, who does my illustrations… I’m not intending to include many of the stories from the book itself, though if there is a volume two well you never know. 

My day job is as a partner at the strategic brand consultancy The Value Engineers and the stories I collect and write come from projects I’m working on, from clients I’m working with, books, websites, newspapers, friends and colleagues. I ‘steal’ with pride… so if you have a story you want to share please feel free to contact me. If you want to find out more about The Value Engineers please click on the link and visit our website.


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