The first step in the Story Cycle brand authoring process is to establish your backstory: the setting of your story. We ask three questions to spark conversation what your brand’s unique position is in the marketplace:
- Where has your brand been?
- Where is your brand now?
- Where is your brand heading?
We ultimately want to arrive at what is your brands #1 position in the market in the hearts and minds of your customers, especially in terms of its features and benefits.
Global Water Resources provides a great example of this methodology. Global Water’s backstory involves purchasing small water utilities in Arizona in the early 2000’s to create a new brand of water supplier in the desert Southwest (Where they had been). Their business model had a much higher purpose than just becoming another water utility. Global Water wanted to become the protector of this most valuable resources (Where they were at the time).
Global Water, at its own expense, was double-plumbing new communities with purple pipes for reclaimed water so that it would be easier to recycle this valuable resource for landscapes, green belts, and other nonpotable uses, essentially creating a new source of water through reuse in one of the world’s driest regions.
As Trevor Hill, president of Global Water would say, “Why would you flush your toilet with Perrier when recycled water will do?”
By understanding where Global Water had been, empathizing with where they were as a company at the time of the branding, and appreciating where they wanted to go, we guided the organizing using the first step in the Story Cycle to find its true calling as a brand.
Here’s how we boiled down Global Water’s dominant position in the market from its backstory.
Specialty: Water reclamation and reuse
#1 Specialty: Global Water Resources is the number one expert at resource scarcity management.
Print campaign that launched the new Global Water brand.
How many water utilities can stake out an edgy market position as the protectors of our most essential resource and stand by it? Global Water’s intent is to propel the entire water industry forward (Where the brand wanted to go) by educating regulators about the safety of recycled water and to make it more accessible for the good of the planet, its people, and their bottom line.
Following the launch of its new brand story, Global Water became one of the fastest growing water utilities in the Southwest.
Global Water is the metaphorical pebble in the pond. The concentric circles of its brand story are rippling internationally through the company’s relatively new software-as-a-service venture called Fathom.
Fathom, which was born from its own Story Cycle process, is the smart grid for water that helps utilities transform data into knowledge to increase revenue, decrease costs and delight customers. The company services water utilities and municipalities from Southern California to Thames, England to Sydney, Australia.
Their journey reflects the power of a well-defined backstory and market position that holds real meaning and reveals the truth about the organization and its mission.
Both Global Water and Fathom are excellent examples for how the Story Cycle helps articulate the brand vision and create a new realm for the company to live into.