What lessons does 70 years of James Bond as a brand teach us about storytelling ?
Vinay observes that James Bond has been around for 70 odd years. It has been played by six different people, spanning nearly 30 films. The primary idea of James Bond is the ultimate male fantasy that has nuanced itself very well across the years. One can see that in the way the villains in the James Bond films have changed. In the earlier James Bond films, it was always implied that the Russians were villains, though it was eventually a Specter or some other organization like that. But these days, the threat of terrorism is more pronounced and that’s how the depiction of antagonist have changed.
The second way that brand has evolved is the role of women in James Bond movies, and no one symbolizes this more than M. 20 -30 years back it was preposterous that Bond would take orders from a woman . The Pierce Brosnan era changed that with M being Judi Dench, who was in absolute control of Bond. This was reflective of the way that the world began accepting women at higher positions of power .
Another way Bond has changed with times is the way the Bond films have nuanced Moneypenny. Earlier you always had that moment where either a Sean Connery or Roger Moore would flirt with Moneypenny, and it was nothing more than that. But in the later Daniel Craig movies, what you see is that she is a strong person who knows what she wants in life. And she’s no longer somebody who can be casually played with.
Another interesting aspect is the way the role of Q has changed, again, reflective of of the changing times. Across most of the eras Q was an older man (age and white hair meant wisdom). But the new Q is a young guy. And it’s very reflective of the startup culture which is prevalent across the world where people who are in their teens and 20s are disrupting businesses & starting up massive companies.
So while James Bond franchise has stayed true to its overarching narrative, it has remained relevant by finding stories, which are reflective of the changing times. And these stories need not necessarily be major plot lines. The stories would reflect on relationship of various characters with Bond, for example. So James Bond has evolved as a brand and has done brilliantly in terms of storytelling across time.
Vinay Kanchan on Examples of Brand Storytelling Strategy, Creativity Hacks