What can “hygge” and “guanxi” teach marketers about storytelling? For starters: be honest; be authentic.
Foreign words that don’t adequately translate to English have always fascinated me.
The Danes, for example, have their hygge, which is closely related to comfort, but more accurately describes that very specific warmness/safeness/placidity you feel when you’re around a fire with the ones you love.
The Chinese, similarly, have their guanxi, which literally means “relationships,” but is better described by a notion of forging and keeping mutually beneficial relationships and networks.
As marketers, we don’t focus enough on hygge and guanxi.
Take as an example Seth Godin’s “All Marketers are Liars.” He draws a line between honesty and authenticity, arguing that it doesn’t matter if something is actually better or faster or more efficient—it only matters if the perception of the marketing communication (the story) is authentic. The only thing a consumer cares about is a story he can believe.