Readers, viewers, gamers — anyone entrenched in a story big or small inherently seeks an emotional connection with its characters. It’s what makes it possible to stay up all night binge-watching your new favorite show, to feel tears well during an inspiring commercial, or to read that same amazing novel three times over.

Successful content marketers know this character-driven truth, and firmly stick it into the ground as foundation. For some brands, this ends up taking shape as a singular brand character, in the great tradition of Mr. Clean, Tony the Tiger, and more recent successes like Progressive’s leading lady, Flo.


Throughout the past year, we’ve had the pleasure of working with Silicon Valley-based cloud storage provider Tintri, to develop a brand character that fits the wants and desires of its target audience of IT professionals.

“We operate in a fairly conservative market – the storage market – where not a lot of wild and crazy stuff happens on a regular basis,” said Scott Buchanan, Tintri’s VP of Marketing. “We want to push our brand to be different and to stand out from the crowd of storage providers.”

That mindset led Tintri to Carl, a character born from brainstorming sessions, collaborative feedback, and audience analysis. According to Buchanan, “he’s a caricature of what our audience is like.”

We initially shot a three-part comedic video series featuring Carl (played by actor Joe Tantalo) called Don’t Be That Guy, in which he’s more or less totally obsessed with finding the right storage solution. He rambles on in language specific to the concerns of the audience, and those around him outside of that group (his doctor, his neighbor) are getting concerned.

“There’s not a lot of humor in our industry, and we can say things through Carl that are hard for our brand to just say,” added Buchanan. “He creates that edge for us, and our audience finds things in Carl that they can relate to.”

Because of that personal and emotional connection, Tintri recently flew Tantalo out to California to give a company-wide presentation, in character, at its annual sales meeting.

“Everyone loved it. In survey results, it was by far the highest rated session we’ve had,” said Buchanan.

After that series wrapped and garnered positive feedback from Tintri’s audience, it was evident Carl was hitting the right chord. Tintri signed Tantalo on to an additional series of demo videos, in which the character puts the Tintri VM Store product to the test.

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“So often in technology, the demo is driven by a disembodied voice, a voiceover with screen captures,” said Buchanan. “Because of that, it’s what people now expect — that or they expect some technical representative from the company to deliver the demo, and that totally lacks emotion and interest. There’s no story there.”

But there’s a story with Carl — and it continues to develop. After having discovered Tintri, he transforms into the company’s foremost fanatic in the latest video series, making it his personal crusade to convert other “customers” (actors) in the follow-up called LUN Addicts.

“Carl’s exploits are only just beginning,” said Buchanan. “Our customers and our employees are actively contributing ideas for his next adventure.”

Any thoughts on the video series with Tintri? Let us know in the comments and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn.

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