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Me, Me, Mediocrity. The killer of the brand story.

How did it all go wrong? When did companies buy into the fallacy that people enjoy reading self-indulgent company narratives, bloated elevator pitches and hollow mission statements? They don’t, and never have. This approach is counterproductive.

Now considered stiff and pretentious, this way of inviting your audience to get to know you better started off as an internal exercise to help brands clarify their messaging (nothing bad about that), but it should’ve stayed in the boardroom. Instead, it bled out into the shop window and became the socially accepted way of talking about who you are and what you do. Now companies only write in this ‘me, myself and I’ format because everyone else seems to. What a waste of potential and originality.

What do we say to insincerity? Not today.

The thing about humans is that we’re not wired to accept being talked at. Language is the reason our species survived and continued to evolve because it strengthened group dynamics and made us effective hunters so we could sit on top of the food chain. It was never meant for one dimensional chat. Yet, About Us pages across the web contain nothing but fake promises and unsubstantiated claims. They fail at capturing their brand’s essence and they fail even harder at making their brand seem like real thinking/feeling people sit behind them.

If nothing else, history teaches us that how you deliver a message matters far more than what that message contains, and that if you hope to provoke action, you need to communicate with people as though you are one of them, because the truth is you are one them. What you definitely shouldn’t do, is talk to them as though you’re their superior.

It doesn’t matter how misguided you’ve been in the past, a well-crafted brand story will always resurrect the fallen. It’s not too late to cultivate an authentic story that truly invigorates your target audience – you just have to make sure they can see themselves in it by making it relatable and being human.

It’s hard to picture, I know, but it can be done. Here, I’ll show you how.

A story is a delivery vessel made up of key moments.

Let’s break it down. What makes a good business origin story is the journey you take people on, the tension you create, the humanity you appeal to and the emotions you rouse. Think about how you want them to feel after they’ve read your About Us page, instead of what you want them to think. It’s a small shift in mentality, but it really pays off. You need people to feel you understand them, by demonstrating empathy.

Write a backstory that does exactly what it’s supposed to with this 5-step process:

  1. Something’s not right: In story terms this is your call to adventure. The moment at the start of a movie, after a prolonged state of harmony, something shifts. A problem arises. Change is in the air. In brand story terms, you’ve identified a problem. Tell us what it is.
  2. Enlightenment strikes: This follows the hero’s state of restlessness. All of a sudden they know what they need to do and they cross the threshold. So, describe your eureka moment.
  3. You encounter a road of trials: A goal has been set. The wheel of destiny is in motion. The hero makes mistakes and hits dead ends but doesn’t give up. Life is messy so just be honest with your audience, share your ups and downs.
  4. Light at the end of the tunnel: The hero is closer now and may even have received a reward of some sort that spurs him on. You’re making progress and you’ve ironed out a lot of the creases. How did you overcome your obstacles?
  5. The vow: You know you have a long way to go and that your journey is far from over but you’ve learnt from your mistakes and you promise yourself one thing. What is it? What do you hope for?

TIP: Make it memorable by using sensory language to evoke feelings – but please don’t go into journalistic detail. You will only have their attention for a short time. Keep it by being strict with yourself on what matters.

Good brand stories always look different and so they should. Use our 5-step process to help hash out your brand story, then play with the structure a little.

There are so many ways of writing your brand story but this is the quickest and easiest way for you to get it on paper right this minute. Try it. We can always help if you hit a wall.