The Story You Tell
by Ian Doescher
At Pivot, we are writing lots of stories these days. Not silly stories or children’s stories, but stories about companies. As part of our branding process, which we engage in with almost all of our new clients, we write the story of their brand. This isn’t the story found on the history page of a company website, telling how the company was founded and offering more details about its history than most readers want. Instead, the brand story explains what problem in the world the company’s products or services solve. What is the unique hole that the company fills? What deep need do customers have that can be satisfied by doing business with the company? Answers to these questions are found in the brand story.
After it is written, the brand story is not intended to be read by the public. Rather, like a style guide or logo usage guide (and often included with those things), the brand story should be used internally as a guide for all of the company’s communications. Does that ad tell our company’s story correctly? Is that Facebook post consistent with our brand? Would someone read our brand story, then see our corporate communications, and recognize that they are one and the same? If so, great! Our marketing has done its job by telling the story we want to tell. If not, there’s a problem — whatever piece of communication we are looking at probably needs to be changed. The brand story is your touchstone, the thing you come back to you time after time to ensure a common narrative.
What story does your company tell? Is it a good story? Is it a snoozer, or cliffhanger? Does your story matter?
In the book The Life of Pi, the point is made that many different stories can be told that reach the same conclusion. If you sell hotdogs, is that a story about feeding people? Is it a story about satisfying people’s sense of nostalgia? Is it a story about a family heritage and recipe passed down for generations? Is it a story about a region’s culinary specialty being made available to the world? Any of those stories might get us to the end result of selling hotdogs, but the story you choose drastically changes how you communicate your message.
Do you know what story you’re telling? Is it a story you’re proud of? If not, it may be time to tell a new story.
By the way, did I mention pivot is writing lots of stories these days?