What are the brand descriptors that become the thematic milestones for successful customer engagement?

In chapter 8 of the Story Cycle System™, we have you focus on designing success milestones into your customer engagement plan. This is important because you need to demonstrate to your customers that they are having success with your brand offering. That you’re actually making a positive impact in their life.

But many marketers often overlook even the smallest of victories thinking that you have to experience big wins to be successful.

Here’s a way to find those small victories, anticipate them in your customer’s journey, and then be there for them when they connect and grow with your brand.

Create nine one-word descriptors that define your brand.

Why nine? Because I like to have you do some soul-searching on how your customers experience your brand in three areas and attribute three words each to:

  1. Your company
  2. Your product or service offering
  3. Your audience engagement including customers, employees and stakeholders

For instance, one of my brand descriptors for the Business of Story is InsightfulWhen you clarify your story using the Business of Story tools and techniques, you will reveal insights that are invaluable to further your personal and professional ambitions.

Here’s an example of how the theme of “insightful” successfully played out in one person’s customer journey with my platform.

Understand your story to embrace your true journey

On Thursday, February 24, 2018, I was presenting a 90-minute Business of Story workshop to 400 professionals during Social Media Marketing World in the San Diego Convention Center. Saul Nir stepped to the microphone to share his And, But, Therefore (ABT) statement with the audience, which would be the foundation for his personal brand story.

But when he read what he had written about becoming a coach for entrepreneurs, everyone in the room realized his ABT statement wasn’t very clear or convincing. So I pressed him on the content to see if he could arrive at more clarity. When he couldn’t, I asked him if coaching entrepreneurs was truly where his heart was right now? He shrugged and said, “I don’t know…Thank you.” And then sat down.

The next day, I received this pivotal tweet…

Brand storytelling customer journey with business storytelling and leadership


I believe Saul is now following a more powerful story for Saul through the insight he gained in this simple story exercise. This is a victory moment with my brand of business storytelling, and it’s one he happily tweeted to the world.

This is an example of designing in a success point with brand awareness. Prior to my presentation at SMMW18, Saul had never heard of me or the Business of Story. But in this 90-minute workshop, he became more aware of his own brand story and embraced what he really wanted to do.

Your nine brand descriptors become like customer service buoys. They help you navigate successful customer journeys by being intentional about where you want to take them and being there to celebrate the small victories.

My other brand descriptors for the Business of Story include Honesty, Authenticity, Connecting, Entertaining, Educating, Inspiring and Fun.

How I use “Fun” as a customer success milestone in my brand story

Stories are a great way to lighten up a business crowd by inserting a little fun into a serious gathering to make your point.

A month ago, I was working with 60 engineers and executives at the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating station in Phoenix, AZ. They were a smart but somewhat rigid crowd, so I softened them up by sharing the story of Thog the caveman to illustrate the ABT concept.

One evening, Thog returned to his cave looking a little worse for wear. His cavern roommate, Grag, grunted, “Thog, you no look so good. What happened?”

He explained, “Thog go to stream to catch saber-toothed salmon.”

“Uh huh,” grunted Grag.

“But saber-toothed tiger show up!”

“Uh oh!” belched Grag.

“Thog hit tiger with salmon. Tiger like salmon better than Thog, so here I am.”

“Ah-hah…” nodded Grag.

And there you have it; perfect three-act story structure delineated by Grag’s “Uh huh (Set up), Uh Oh! (Conflict), Ah-hah…” (Resolution).

Thog’s story is a fun way to illustrate the three-act structure of every compelling story. Plus, it underscores that storytelling is more important for our survival than our opposable thumbs. After all, stories are what have evolved us from cavemen to consumers.

Brand storytelling speaker for business stories and collaboration

Slide from my Business of Story presentation

And maybe most of all, Thog’s story made the scientists and nuclear engineers laugh. That’s an important success milestone to achieve if you’re going to get them to adopt your brand.

By the way, if you think I was just being flippant with my “Uh huh, Uh oh!, Ah-hah” primal outline of story, think again. It’s backed up by the work of Harvard Ph.D. Evolutionary Biologist, Dr. Randy Olson, the revealer of the ABT.  You can explore it with Rd. Olson on the Business of Story podcast in this fun and enlightening episode: The Science of Storytelling. You’ll experience one of my success milestones when you listen to his show.

Brand appreciation customer milestone

Now that I’ve shown you examples of brand awareness and adoption victories within customer engagement, let’s look at what brand appreciation might look like. This example is based on my one-word descriptor of Inspiring.

You know storytelling is powerful when you see how people get inspired when they learn to craft, tell and appreciate a good story. 

Brand storytelling customer journey strategy for leadership and business storytelling

Image courtesy of West Virginia State University Football.

On Sunday, July 29, 2018, I was working with 110 Air Force generals and their staff at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, TX, during a half-day Business of Story workshop. When I asked some of the attendees to share the stories they were working on, Brigadier General Christopher “Mookie” Walker raised his hand. He said that he was speaking to the West Virginia State Yellow Jackets football team on the following Sunday and he typically just gets up and wings it because he was good on his feet and a confident speaker. 

But now that he had been working the ABT foundation to storytelling, and the Story Cycle System™, he appreciated the power of a structured story. General Walker completely changed his approach to his presentation right there in the workshop. He realized he needed a more focused narrative to connect with the football players. His message was that he himself was a reluctant leader until he spent several years in the Air Force. He learned that we all have the capability to be effective leaders.

His point to the players was that when they stepped onto the football field that they became leaders in the eyes of the Yellow Jackets football fans, especially the kids. And that it is their duty to act like leaders especially during those times when they didn’t feel like it. General Walker stressed that their leadership was important because West Virginia has the highest rate of opioid addiction in the country. He challenged them to play a major role in turning that around by taking a stand against drugs and working with youth to help them to make the right choices.

General Walker got a huge ovation from his fellow generals when he was done describing the theme and his approach to his presentation. He said it was inspired by the work we were doing in this Business of Story communications workshop and how he appreciated these simple narrative tools to help become a more effective storyteller.

Become an intentional storyteller. Anticipate the small success in your customer’s journey by defining them with your nine brand descriptors. Capture and archive customer engagement stories from the past with each descriptor functioning as the theme for that story. Then use those success moments to duplicate them with your future customers. 

For more ways to create your own inspiring stories, download our fun and FREE eBook with five storytelling exercises: The 5 Stages of Grief in Telling Your Business Story


This post appears in the eighth issue of the Business of Story online magazine: Victory is at Hand: Celebrating Success with Your Customer.