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Telling Your Brand's Story

[lead]A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…[/lead]
It’s how Jonathan Opp started off New Kind’s The Power of Story workshop at the CAM. Meredith Colyer and I were fortunate enough to attend this incredible event and learn to better tell the stories of our clients and O3.

It’s also a simple line that’s universally understood across languages, continents, colors and generations that perfectly sets the scene for one of the greatest stories ever told. Why is this line so important? It provides the setting that’s necessary to preface the wild story about to be told.

The setting is one of the five components of a good story.

  1. Setting – You have to give the audience basic details of the world they’re about to enter.
  2. Characters – Any story is about people, Jedis or not.
  3. Conflict – What’s the overwhelming challenge that the hero or main character faces?
  4. Emotion – The connection that draws us in and keeps us engaged. It can stress us out, make us happy or pull on the heartstrings.
  5. Journey – The character has to go from point A to point B. It can be physically, mentally or emotionally.

If you could tell your organization’s story, what would these five elements look like? Who would the characters be? What is the journey you’re on? These questions shouldn’t be too difficult to answer. It’s not revolutionary advice, but how often do you really break down the story and think about them when you’re talking about your organization?

Hero and Mentor

In most good stories, there’s a hero and a mentor. The hero is usually the main character. Think Luke Skywalker. They have to go through trials and tribulations throughout the journey to get to their end destination. The mentor is the person or entity that helps the hero through their journey and gives them the keys to succeed along the way. Think Obi Wan Kenobi. Most of the time, the mentor is most effective when they act as a mirror for the hero by providing the hero advice that allows them to find the answers they’re searching for within themselves.

When you get the chance, cast your clients, customers and community members as the heroes. Act as the mentor. Hold the mirror to them and help in any way you can.

Brands are Personalities

Brands are much more than just a logo and people are much more apt to engage with a brand that has personality and clearly expresses the values of the organization. Readers should be able to pick up on tone and voice traits that give an inanimate object life.

At O3, we ask a variety of questions to figure out the voice of the client during our Social Voice exercise. We figure out what the brand says, doesn’t say, words that describe it and even things like if the brand uses GIFs or not. These questions lead us to the voice that best reflects the brand. So, if your brand could be represented by a single person who would it be? Who is the muse?

I used myself and my personal brand as an example during our workshop. I think an honest reflection of myself would be Ted Mosby, architect, from How I Met Your Mother. You can only draw very loose connections to the architect title. I guess I’m an architect of words?

Ted How I Met Your Mother gif

Ted Mosby and I share these characteristics. We’re hard working, loyal, have a tight-knit friend group, empathetic, somewhat impulsive, witty, have a tendency to laugh at our own jokes, we’re hopelessly optimistic and have a quick rebound rate after getting knocked down.

It’s important to identify a spokesperson that encompasses your team’s voice, tone, values and morals so that everyone can buy in. It’s not enough to say, “Our company is fun and passionate about what we do.” That description is so vague and generalized, and could fit thousands of other companies. Talking out all the similarities and focusing on the differences allows everyone on your team to fully understand your company’s voice and how it should appear to the outside world.

Stories can be Powerful

Good stories are memorable, they teach us lessons, and convey emotion and feeling. A good story makes information easier to retain. Instead of just providing facts, give people fascinating details to help them remember the important aspects of your story.

Telling a good story ensures that it will be told again, which is essential. By providing personality, depth and engaging content, the story will be shared and redistributed. 

Stories don’t have to be long, either. The more simplified, the better, especially with our decreasing attention spans. A good story can turn critics into participants. Let them see your personality and let the engaging begin.

So, what’s your story?

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