Customers care more about your brand purpose than your product or service.
You run a purpose-driven brand and are growing with a healthy business model. But competition is threatening your market position, your expanding team does not have a focused journey to align with and your investors are asking, “What’s your story?”
Now you can use the proven framework of the 10-step Story Cycle System™ to clarify your brand narrative, amplify your impact and simplify your life.
According to the 2017 Cone/Porter Novelli Purpose Study, 79% of Americas are more loyal to purpose-driven brands than traditional brands because they feel their narratives better align with their own beliefs and values. More than three-quarters of consumers expect companies to positively impact society in addition to making money.
But your purpose does not preclude profits. International translation firm Avantpage, whose purpose is to help immigrants realize their American dream, grew by 30% in new business in the first few months following the launch of its purpose-driven brand story.
Goodwill of Central and Northern Arizona has grown by 400% once it dialed in its story.
Avein Saaty-Tafoya, CEO of Adelante Sustainable Healthcare, recently told me that they have now grown by over 600% in the past nine years due to its refined purpose of sustaining the availability of quality healthcare for all. You can hear her story on the Business of Story podcast.
The Story Cycle System™ Helps You Craft Your Story on Purpose
Traditional branding practices aren’t effective in today’s selling environment because they focus on the features and functions of your offering when what your customers care about is your purpose.
But how do you find your purpose and the compelling narrative required to differentiate you in a crowded market, help you stand out in a noisy world, and allow you to connect with customers on a primal level and move them to action?
Since stories are what make us human, it only makes sense that a marketer would use storytelling to humanize their brand. Once you find your narrative, your purpose becomes crystal clear.
When you get all of your people aligned with your purpose-driven brand story, you will recruit and retain the best talent, grow customer engagement, increase your margins and generate greater loyalty.
Developing Your Purpose-Driven Brand Story
I will briefly take you through the 10 steps of the Story Cycle System™ and demonstrate the outcome from each activity by showing you how I’ve crafted the Business of Story purpose-driven brand story. You can start crafting your brand story as you read along.
BACKSTORY: Declaring Your Brand Position Statement
You have a proven business model and are among the market leaders with your offering. Unfortunately, you look and sound like your competition promoting features and functions with little to no brand differentiation.
Your first step is to declare your brand position in a concise statement that details how you are different and therefore better than your competitors.
Defining, defending and delivering on your market position is important because it helps ensure your survival by clarifying your brand narrative making it easy for your customers to understand what problem you solve for them.
This is your first critical step out of the primordial muck of commoditization and into humanity. The greater personal meaning you can create with your customers about your brand the greater their engagement, your margins and loyalty.
The Business of Story is the #1 resource for leaders of purpose-driven brands to align their people engage their customers and built trust in offering using the proven power of the Story Cycle System™.
HERO: Defining Your Target Audiences
As a leader of a purpose-driven brand, you are proud of what you’ve created and it’s easy to fixate on the brilliance of your offering.
But you must realize that your brand is not the hero of your story; your customer is. Here you will prioritize your top three audiences and craft a customer persona for each using the Story Cycle System™.
This is important because to humanize your brand you must understand and empathize with your customer’s journey. How do they wish to feel and what do they want to achieve to make that emotion happen?
Your purpose-driven brand story is not about what you make, but what you make happen in your customer’s life.
My target audiences for the Business of Story have one thing in common: They appreciate the power of business storytelling but are unsure how to incorporate in their brand. My three audiences are:
- Founder/CEO of an Emerging Enterprise
- Directors of Branding, Marketing, Sales or Human Resources
- The Industrious Executive
STAKES: Understanding Motivational Dynamics
Your brand solves an important problem for your customer and growth of your enterprise is reliant on you fulfilling the wishes for all of your audiences. But understanding what people want can be difficult. Take the time now to determine what’s at stake for each of your audiences and how you will trigger their will to act through the stories you tell.
This is important because humans are typically motivated by one of two mindsets: A mindset of abundance about what they will gain by buying into your brand story, or a mindset of scarcity about what they will lose by remaining in status quo. Think of it as FOME (For me) or FOMO (Fear of missing out).
While your audiences wish to feel one way and want to purchase something to make that emotion happen, you must understand what stories of abundance or scarcity to tell to trigger their will to act. As a brand storyteller, you are in the wish-granting business.
- Wish to feel confident and optimistic as communicators
- Want a proven storytelling system with outcomes they can measure
- Their will to act is triggered by the need to outperform their competition and excel through the stories they tell
DISRUPTION: Crafting Your Unique Value Proposition
You know you offer the best product or service in your market niche and that your brand stands for much more than what you sell. But what your customers care about is what problem you’re solving for them. Therefore, you must identify what has, is or may disrupt your market and their life and how to message how your brand is the most urgent and relevant offering for your customers.
This is when you will write your Unique Value Proposition (UVP). Your UVP is important because it humanizes your functional brand position statement from step 1 by couching it in a narrative framework that communicates what you make happen for your employees, customers and communities you serve.
Your UVP becomes the spine of your brand story to begin connecting your world with your audiences.
The UVP for the Business of Story is: Excel through the stories you tell.
ANTAGONISTS: Embracing Market Dynamics
I once heard that selling is nothing but finding the hurt, amplifying the pain and healing the wound. But most brands ignore the obstacles and antagonists (pain points) that buffet their customer is buying. Instead of pushing against these roadblocks, embrace them.
This is important because when you honestly callout the villains, fog and crevasses that your audiences will experience when adopting your brand, you will speak the truth. Stories deliver the truth, good or bad, that creates trust.
By helping your customers overcome the obstacles and antagonists that stand in their way and deliver on the promises you make in your stories, you become a merchant of trust.
The single greatest antagonist I help clients overcome is boredom. Think about it, when was the last time you were bored into buying anything? Additional obstacles they have to overcome is status quo thinking, apathy, and defaulting back to old ineffective ways of communicating.
MENTOR: Expressing Your Brand Personality
As I mentioned earlier, you and your offering are not the heroes of your brand story, your customers are. You actually play a more important role as their mentor or guide. So express the emotional promise you provide, the intrinsic gift you give and the authentic personality you communicate through that elevate your brand from a passionless enterprise to an empowering human endeavor. Check out the 12 primal personality archetypes and select the one that best expresses your brand character.
This stage of the Story Cycle System™ is important because people buy from people, not companies. They purchase out of passion not boredom. They buy because of your drama not your data.
When you act out of the authentic humanity of your brand, you begin to rise above being just another product or service provider to a valued personal partner that helps your customers achieve what they want out of life.
The emotional brand promise for the Business of Story is the feeling of enchantment. Once you learn the applied science and bewitchery of storytelling, you will move people like you never have before.
The intrinsic brand gift you receive through our storytelling practice is to Excel as a person and professional. To shine, be outstanding, be unsurpassed.
The archetypal brand personality is the Jester supported by the Magician and Sage that are reflected through our branding, marketing, training and speaking.
JOURNEY: Mapping Customer Engagement
Every step of the Story Cycle System™ builds on the previous step and enhances the humanity of your brand as your narrative progresses. But this is where the rubber meets the road of trials. Map your customer engagement from brand awareness to adoption to appreciation to determine where they are on their journey with you.
This is important because you need to know if you are telling them a story that introduces them to your offering (awareness). Or have they already bought into your story and now you’re trying to build repeat business (adoption)? Maybe they love you and now you want them to make your story their story (appreciation).
The customer journey is the beginning of brand bonding with the goal of having your audiences share their real-world experiences with you with their world.
Customer engagement at the Business of Story includes brand consulting, speaking, workshops, masterclasses and a deliberate practice program to help leaders of purpose-driven brand excel through the stories they tell.
VICTORY: Celebrate Brand Bonding
As a leader of a purpose-driven brand you are excited about the big victories you achieve on your journey. In so doing you maybe missing out on the power of smaller moments that propel the momentum of your brand story forward. Therefore, be sure to map the success milestones that you can celebrate with your customers on your journey.
These success milestones are important because they demonstrate to your audience that they are on the right path with you experiencing empowering scenes as a player in your brand narrative.
Never underestimate the power of minor moments that have shaped who you are today. After all, all moving human stories are made of moments.
MORAL: Connecting Shared Beliefs and Values Through your Purpose
Your brand story is not about what you make, but what you make happen. That’s why the Story Cycle System™ parallels Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to transport you, your brand, your people and your customers to a higher place.
It’s important because you are harnessing a universal truth about what drives humanity. You started with your Backstory that captured your functional position statement detailing what you do different and therefore better than your competition. This is the base of Maslow’s pyramid of basal physiological needs. Your narrative moves you to safety needs identified by steps three through five of Stakes, Disruption and Antagonists. Then you embrace love and belonging as expressed by your Mentor’s promise, gift and personality. The next progression is to esteem earned during the Journey, ultimately delivering you to self-actualization found in the Moral of your story: your brand’s purpose.
Your brand purpose becomes the North Star for everything you do. To find it, review steps one through eight of the Story Cycle System™ and then ask yourself why your brand exists beyond making money. We exist to help people accomplish what? Your product or service is your vehicle. Your human-centric purpose is your destination.
Our purpose: The Business of Story exists to help people live into and prosper from their most powerful stories.
RITUAL: Generating Repeat Business and Word of Mouth Marketing
The goal of crafting your brand narrative is to humanize your organization and offering creating meaning and purpose for your audiences. But the trick is to get them to buy in and make your story their story? Therefore, you must design brand rituals – the ritualistic use of your offering – into their lives.
It’s important because your people need to align with your brand vision, mission and journey with a narrative they can live into and prosper from. Your customers won’t buy into your brand story until you and your people own it first.
No bond is stronger than two people living into a shared story and then scaling it into their world.
Here are the top three rituals we encourage our leaders to do to grow as business storytellers:
- Apply the And, But & Therefore narrative framework to everything from your morning goal-setting ritual, to your emails to answering the question: “How was your day?”
- Spot stories in the wild and capture three each day for use in your story library
- At least once a week, use the Story Cycle System™ to outline a presentation or other long-form communications piece
Your DIY Brand Story Strategy Workbook
You can start developing your purpose-driven brand story using the Story Cycle System™ with our DIY Brand Story Creation workbook. Simply download your interactive guide and begin crafting your brand story.
I can also coach you in the process or can come in and work with your team. My ultimate goal is to help you excel through the stories you tell.