Finding Your Brand’s Universal Story with Ellen Utrecht

ellen utrecht on brand

“Story doesn’t start with a 40-page deck. It starts with a founder with a vision.” And yet, there are quite a few 40-page branding decks floating around out there. This week on the podcast I was joined by Ellen Utrecht, a branding, film, and storytelling expert and founder of creative agency MikeTeeVee for a conversation about how brand stories really start.

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About Ellen Utrecht

Ellen Utrecht is an all-round film professional with +25 years of experience in both commercials as well as feature films. She got her training at one of The Netherlands most iconic creative agencies, KesselsKramer, where she was instrumental in delivering impactful commercials for brands like Diesel, Ben (t-mobile), Bavaria beer, 55DSL, and Vitra amongst many others. Ellen has a long track record of innovation in film, pioneering new and groundbreaking production approaches for clients like Philips, Heineken, Lego, DSM, and Denham. Her Dutch training in conceptual storytelling and strong execution led to a successful worldwide career in Sydney, Los Angeles, and Toronto.

She is the founder of MikeTeevee which recently successfully launched the Lego The Movie campaign and Midnight Pictures responsible for successful short and feature films such as Eclair, Meeting the Other Women and Bushwack. MikeTeevee was also responsible for the widely shared non-profit anti-gun campaign “Veterans for Gun reform.”

Episode Highlights

Yes, that Mike TeeVee. Of course, my first question had to be if Ellen had named her shop after the character of the same name in Roald Dahl’s classic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Ellen confirmed this with the reminder that the character is addicted to screens and content. That’s certainly relevant to audiences today!

Story + brand. We talk about storytelling a lot today but what does it really mean for brands? “Story doesn’t start with a 40-page deck. It starts with a founder with a vision. A brand that stands out in the world today has that one universal truth. That’s where the story lies.”

What happens if you lose the universal truth of your brand story? “We go back to the root when we create a brand narrative for clients. This usually comes in the form of a three- to four-minute film.”

What brand has made Ellen smile recently? “Supreme. It’s this 20-year old brand that’s completely reinvented itself.”

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As We Wrap …

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Until next week, I’ll see you on the Internet!