What is your brand story? It matters more than you think
Back in 1994 a man called Jeff Bezos discovered this thing called the internet. He’d read usage was growing at 2,300 percent and a lightbulb went off. This thing might be good for selling stuff, he thought. After sorting through the options, Jeff picked books and, well, the rest is Amazon history. But for me that’s not the best part of the story.
After Jeff and his wife MacKenzie committed themselves to the crazy startup life, they flew from the US East Coast to Texas then drove to Seattle in a car they borrowed from his father. Picture the scene as they drive for miles and miles with Jeff bashing away at revenue projections while sitting in the passenger seat.
It’s a nice echo of the historic pioneers in US history who pushed west in their wagons pursuing new frontiers, encountering new challenges and ultimately changing the lives of millions (including indigenous communities, sadly).
Let me tell you why this is significant. What you’ve got here is a classic ‘Origin Story’, the first scene-setting chapter in any brand adventure. In fact, there are five other key chapters in your brand story that I outline in my Beliefonomics™ brand storytelling framework.
But first, what makes a compelling Origin Story like that of Jeff Bezos and Amazon grow wings and fly? Two core elements must be in play: it must engage hearts, and minds.
With our opening scene characters of Jeff and Mackenzie we have a couple in love, taking a risk. It’s all heart. Then we’ve got the facts and figures: 2,300 percent growth in web usage, travelling from Texas to Seattle to start a company, and the year 1994.
Storytelling researchers tell us our minds are more likely to remember these salient points when they’re wrapped in an emotional story.
That’s why the Amazon car story works, and why countless other Origin Stories are recounted every day. Our hearts are moved and we remember the facts through the power of story.
It’s the very essence of effective brand storytelling, capturing what I call the ‘Belief Moment’. The Belief Moment is a point in time when our hearts and minds are changed, shifting us from one state of understanding the story to another.
Telling your brand story
Let me explain more by locating Belief Moments in the context of brand stories, or the Brand Journey as it’s defined in Beliefonomics.
The Brand Journey is the chronological history of where you’ve been and where you’re going as a company or product.
Contrary to popular misconception, it’s not just your Origin Story. It’s not even your origin plus your company values and latest brand positioning.
Think about it as six core chapters in a story from beginning to end. The stages detailed in Beliefonomics are Origin, Vision, Trials, Truth, Growth, and Destiny.
We don’t have time to flesh them out in detail here except to say that each Brand Journey chapter captures one aspect of your company’s story. And every chapter needs to be documented and told.
The stories could include the creative spark that inspired your Origin Story, the circumstances that created your Trials as a fledgling company getting off the ground, or the wonder of giving back to the community as the natural expression of a company that’s achieved its Destiny.
Surprisingly, most companies have not yet documented the full Brand Journey. I see plenty of Origin Stories, and little else beyond echoing a Growth Story in marketing executions. The narrative looks like this: we’re a growing company, so come join us and buy our product!
If you’re going to be a truly effective brand storyteller, you’ve got to help customers, staff, partners and the community understand your entire story. Why publish a book with just one chapter? We’re left begging for more.
Why it matters
So why does your brand story matter? A few important reasons.
- It’s the one completely defensible asset that connects customers with your purpose and unique differences.
- Each chapter of your story will appeal to different customers on their own personal belief journeys. Some will resonate with a sound vision, others need to see that you’re giving back. Choose the right chapter for where your customer’s hearts and minds are at and you’ll have a much more powerful connection.
- Key stakeholders actually want to hear the whole story, every chapter. It builds trust, engagement and loyalty. Get it right and you’ll be on the way to amplifying the impact of your marketing spend, with fans for life.
As I tell CEOs and marketing leaders, you’re the director of your brand story. Like Jeff Bezos, you’ve got a story to tell your customers, so when are you going to sit down and write the script?
Mark Jones is Chief Storyteller and CEO at Filtered Media and author of Beliefonomics™, the brand storytelling framework for growth. Get in touch today to arrange a keynote, workshop or consultation with Mark Jones about applying Beliefonomics to increase the value of your customer’s brand belief journey.