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brand stories

brand stories self-advocacy

Origin stories can be about regular people, too

How to write your brand's origin story

Are you as devastated and confused as I am by the news that there might be no more Superman movies starring Henry Cavill? The world is cruel sometimes. As you curl up on the couch to console yourself (just me?) please find a moment to reflect on the larger topic: the power of an origin story. Origin stories are about point A rather than point B. When it comes to talking about our achievements, especially at work, we tend to…

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brand stories data stories

Keep your story outside the box

This ad is a good example of an organization showing how it can change your life without ever talking about the mechanics of what it does. Please watch this story and then go through the reflections below. What is in your organization’s box? 23andMe is a saliva collection kit (can you feel the romance?). You never hear those words in the commercial. While 23andMe has a very real box for its customers, your organization may have a figurative box. Either way, you need to know…

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best practices brand stories

Want to gamble? Hide the objective in your story.

Before you watch the video (which you may have seen already and should watch again anyway) and before you read the NPR article about it (which has spoilers so watch the video first) please reflect on this. Can your organization show a story where you don’t tell the objective until the end?  I don’t typically advise this approach because it is so high risk. You’d have to make all the other components of your set up so good to keep the audience interested. You’d…

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brand stories persuasion

Want new audiences? Deploy unusual messengers.

Here is a fake statistic that feels plausible to me. More than 90% of nonprofit stories star the same two characters; the person receiving the service and the provider of that service. IT IS SO PREDICTABLE. The kid and his tutor. The recovering addict and the counselor. Been there heard that. Usual messengers = same old same old That formula worked for a while because it’s intimate and emotional but it’s fatiguing. It’s becoming less effective every day. And if you don’t do work on…

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brand stories self-advocacy

When to fake it with your stories

It was l’esprit d’escalier all over again. Last night I gave a guest lecture to a public relations class for professionals where the students asked fantastic questions. Of course, a few questions kept rolling around my old noggin while going up the stairs to bed, especially those about authenticity versus fakin’ it. When you tell your own story, be you.  If you’re telling a story about something that happened to you, be yourself. If you’re funny, laugh at yourself or the situation. If you looked bad when…

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brand stories data stories

A strong casey from Mr. Spacey

Oh, Kevin Spacey. He did it again. He gave a speech and the audience was smitten. At Content Marketing World in Cleveland, Ohio, he talked about how conflict and authenticity are essential to good stories. Agreed. My favorite point, however, applies to the world of marketing: “The audience doesn’t care about the platform—they care about the content.” Heck yeah. So many clients get excited about podcasts, billboards, Twitter, etc. as if those tools make their messages more intriguing. Create some good content, choose the…

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brand stories persuasion

Always be a person

Watch. Then we’ll klatch. If I want to stump someone during a training, I’ll ask a client to tell a story about her organization that stars only individuals—no task forces, institutions, partnerships, etc. Oh, she’ll get uncomfortable. Professionals are accustomed to talking about their work in terms of groups. Everything is “us” and “we.” Totally get it for organizational overviews. Totally don’t recommend it in storytelling. Humans are more relatable than institutions. This ad is a great example on several levels. Besides being clever, it represents an organization…

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best practices brand stories persuasion

Objective versus impact. Don’t get ’em twisted

Every protagonist needs an objective that is to scale. I recently worked with a fabulous university communications team that ran into a very common problem with storytelling. They started their stories with wonderful protagonists (often faculty or students doing impressive work) but by the time they drafted the objectives of those stories (what the protagonist could humanly achieve) they were thinking too big for the story. They were conflating the objective with impact. Objective and impact are different. If you…

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brand stories data stories

Everything Isn’t a Story and That’s OK

Have you noticed that the word “story” has become a buzzword? Every few days, I hear someone use the word “story” when he or she is actually describing something else. Stories have their own requirements, benefits, and effects, which are not better or worse than other mechanisms. But to share something other than a story, you need different components. You also get different results. Story is just one way to structure content First, let’s look at the classic—the story. A…

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best practices brand stories self-advocacy

Walk Your Talk (Or Fly It)

We’ve already talked about naming relationships in stories, creating obstacles, and telling our own stories. Now, in the fourth entry of our series about storytelling, let’s talk about how to deliver on what makes your organization special. Surely your organization has many positive characteristics going for it. The key is to pick the characteristics you most want to spotlight and show them in play. This approach is all about quality over quantity. You’re gonna have to prove it Almost every…

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