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Three steps to unpacking your company Story

AdobeStock_108637469 STORY resized

If you’ve been following us awhile you know we are the agency of Story. WordWrite was the dream of our founder and CEO, Paul Furiga. He believed thoughtful and powerful storytelling had a place in the business world and he sought out to make it happen. As we define it, Story answers the questions why someone would want to do business with you, partner with you or work for you.
“Companies that understand the power of their Story can use that Story to attract and engage their best-fit clients,” explains Paul Furiga in his soon-to-be-released book, “Finding Your Capital S Story: Why your Story drives your brand.”
Most businesses know their why. Today, it’s not uncommon for companies (in any industry) to host internal brainstorm sessions or bring in consultants to help them uncover why they exist. One could surmise this practice has become more popular since the bestselling book, “Start With Why” by Simon Sinek hit the market 10 years ago. But when it comes to sharing their why, many companies mistakenly focus on quippy taglines and bold marketing materials. 
What should they do instead? I’m glad you asked. Distilling down the why is the critical first step in business storytelling. The next, is compiling the elements of the Story. This is your big idea and now you have to unpack it. Here is a simple breakdown of how you can do that:

  1. Identify your character(s). Potential characters could be your customer, an employee, a business partner or your founder. These are the voices to your narrative and their experiences are woven together to make your story unique.
  2. Determine what represents your turning point. This might be a roadblock, a challenge or obstacle, a dream unrealized.
  3. Give people a reason to care. Is there a moral or educational lesson in the story? What emotion do you want your audience to feel? How can you make the story relevant to them?

The best way to get started is to write what you know and to keep your audience in mind at all times. Do you have customer success stories at hand? Were you a part of a special project or campaign? Are there compelling points in the organization’s history? These are all places to look when considering potential examples that can powerfully illustrate your why.

As you craft your Story, consider archetypes. What? Another great question. Archetypes define types of characters we might find in a story. Think of every Disney movie you’ve ever watched as a kid or with your children or grandchildren. There were heroes, outlaws, magicians, sages, jesters and explorers. That’s not to say there were clowns and court jesters in every story, or boot-strapped, gun-toting outlaws slaying evil to save a princess. It’s more of a conceptual idea. The fairy godmother as a magician and sage, a silly dwarf as a jester and a determined young woman who saves her own sister. For further illustration, consider the most compelling stories of all time – David and Goliath, Don Quixote or To Kill a Mockingbird. Now you can begin to see how the archetypes take shape.

When you think of your company why, what role do you play in the story? Are you a magician because your company invented a solution that seamlessly and invisibly solves a significant challenge for your clients? How about a sage? Are you the expert in your particular field that shares advice and best practices to help clients? A hero? Did you come to the rescue of a customer in crisis? 

With all of this advance work and preparation done, you have the clear, identifying elements of a great Story. Stop focusing solely on your tagline and think deeper. Ask the hard question – do your customers, employees and business partners understand why you are the best option for them? Beyond what you tell them in your marketing materials, have you actually given them examples and reasons to emotionally get behind you or invest in you?  If not, you’re at risk of losing them at any moment. In the 21st century, it takes more than fun campaigns to win hearts and minds, it takes powerful stories that evoke emotion and lead to action.

If you’d like to talk Story, we’re game. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you uncover, develop and share your great, untold Story. 

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