You might have heard a famous origin story. The ones like the famous tales of Google and Apple’s humble beginnings in friends’ garages. Perhaps the more infamous tale of Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook creation adventures in ‘The Social Network’ movie spring to mind.
The most successful marketing and branding campaigns come from an idea that grabs people and resonates with who they are. Telling the story of your inception can epitomize the idea that defined your brand in the first place. Likewise, it can inspire your audience to become invested in your future.
Why Telling Your Story Will Solidify Your Foundation
Your target audience has a set of values which they can and want to identify with.
Many industries are tending towards increased globalization, conglomeration and monopolistic practices. Conversely, people are increasingly looking for more local, sustainable and environmental alternatives.
Origin stories utilize the same concept of authenticity as trends like farm-to-table restaurants. They build the social profile of your brand. They turn ‘family-owned’ into ‘I am part of the family.’
Nostalgia Is a Powerful Tool.
Some brands are presently using products sporting retro or throwback branding in addition to their video advertisements and social media posts. Find a sense of nostalgia that works with your individual brand to engage your audience in a memory of the past.
The British breadmaker Hovis is a brand associated with a morning bike ride on an old-fashioned English village hilltop. The director of Britain’s favorite advert, Ridley Scott (yes, the famous one), tapped into the viewer’s nostalgia. In essence, he connected a feeling of enjoying a warm loaf of local-bakery bread in a cozy atmosphere with Hovis.
You can follow the same steps.
How to Begin Telling Your Story
Follow these steps in the order that makes the most sense for your story. Try to include as many as possible!
1. Be Honest and Genuine About What Happened
You can begin humanizing your brand by introducing it in a similar way you might introduce yourself. Keep your origin story as close to the truth as possible. Work hard to emphasize the unique factors that really set you apart and defined the character of your brand.
Decades ago, origin stories came to life in album covers. What time period is your story from?
2. When Did Your Story Occur?
You don’t have to be very date-specific. However at least a decade or an era around an event will help to throw your audience back into the right time-frame.
Try to use examples, which will give your audience a strong association to the time period. Perhaps a particular summer during the disco era, or another more global event, which is easily recognizable.
3. Which Location Had the Biggest Influence?
The geographical location of your inception may or may not be as critical as Bethlehem or Palo Alto, but your audience wants to know where you are from! The culture of your brand’s homeland is one of the biggest indicators of the environment which has helped you to thrive.
4. What Drove You to Start Your Brand?
This one can be tricky, but try looking at it from the perspective of your audience. What problem did you start out trying to solve? How did that drive you forward in the early days? Your motivation for setting sail with your brand can really inspire people who resonate with it.
This is a good topic for tying into how your brand has evolved into what it is today.
5. Who Were the People Involved?
Make it personal. Introduce your eclectic cousin Clarissa and your future best man Mike. Share with your audience how their unique characters and skills helped shape your brand.
Even if you are running more of a one-man-show you should include this. This can be a great opportunity to share some of your more personal origins. Furthermore, there are always influencers around you who may not be directly involved but have still had a huge and lasting impact on your brand origin. Who are they? Include them.
6. What Characteristics Made You Different?
The identifying characteristics of an origin story can take multiple forms. For instance, a wonky delivery bike you used, or a pungent aroma of malt and hops from the brewery next door.
The fast-food chain Shake Shack started with one hot dog cart inside Madison Square Park. Quentin Tarantino writes all of his scripts with a notebook and pen.
Think about an aspect of your origins, which will really enable your audience to put themselves into your shoes. Something like the smell of onions and hot dogs, or the scratch of a pen on paper.
Tie Your Past Into Your Present
Now you have shared your origin story. This is the perfect time to bring your brand story back full circle. Ultimately, you want to merge your origin with your current mission and your vision for the future.
A Road Less Traveled
Share a short summary of how your experiences in the startup stages have led to the road you are walking today.
Be sure to keep the personal and novel aspects prominent. This is especially critical for larger organizations, with which people may have a harder time connecting.
This whole process is about giving your customers a reason to empathize with you. You want them to invest emotionally in your brand and in what makes you different.
These kinds of unique elements are what will give your brand the recognition and foundation to push on towards your next adventures successfully.
Become one of the companies, organizations, and individuals who is sharing these stories with their audiences. Be open to opening up about what made your brand what it is today and what it will become. Even if you came from a cramped cupboard under the stairs, people love a happy-ending story almost as much as they love rooting for the underdog.