11 Nov Finding Your Single Story
In a media landscape that has a screen between almost every connection, we continue to respond to the stories that resonate on a personal level. We crave the stories that get under our skin and make us feel something. We invest in relationships that are trustworthy and make us look at something differently.
When you’re a young brand, looking for a story to launch your product or service, it’s a bit intimidating to know you need to find a meaningful way to connect with you audience. Especially when the creative bar is high and landscape is saturated. So, how do you break through? How do you find the story that matters to your audience? Where do you even start?
It seems like talking about what you make is a logical place to start. You love your product because you created it. You want to talk about every feature and function because those things make your product unique and worth buying. It’s easy to talk about what you make because it’s clear to you. As a result, media content that touts features and functions is constantly being created in hopes that your audience will buy what you offer. This makes perfect sense when your perspective is on the inside looking out. However, the problem with that approach is that audiences are now craving a deeper, more emotional connection to products and services they invite into their life. Especially when you’re first introducing your brand to someone.
A couple years ago I heard a quote from Simon Sinek that resonated with me. “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why why you do it.” I love this because it’s so simple and so true.
Finding the story that is going to emotionally connect with your audience starts by looking within your own organization and asking yourself why it exists in the first place. What are the things you believe in and why do people care? These are questions that will help you get to the emotional core of your brand. They’re harder questions to answer because they’re asking you to consider feelings and beliefs, not facts. When you tap into this authentic and vulnerable place, you’ll discover a powerful platform that holds tremendous potential. It doesn’t matter if you’re company is as big as Starbucks or just you, people want something deeper to connect with.
Here’s an example. If you make pens, it’s easy to tell a story about premium ink and ergonomic design. It may even be a unique story, but it probably won’t be a story worth sharing. However, telling a story about the power of the inspired mind and written word, is much more compelling because that is what you believe in. More importantly, the artists, writers and creators in this world will emotionally connect with that story because they believe in the same thing.
Finding the values and beliefs you share with your audience is critical because people are more inclined to talk about, share and support things that matter to them. In the social landscape, your audience’s emotional investment in your brand will become a key marketing tool. When brands create compelling content that sparks bigger conversations they’re inviting brand loyalists to fuel and guide what is being said. This bigger conversation will serve as a tool to engage your audience, spark curiosity and build trust over time. These are the results of telling an emotionally compelling story at the beginning of the relationship with your audience.
After you’ve given your audience a reason to care, then they’ll go to your website to learn more. That is when you talk about what you make and how it’s unique. All aspects of your brand have a place within the media ecosystem, the trick is putting it out there with the intention of building a relationship with your audience instead of just getting them to simply buy what you offer. In a weird way, it’s not much different than how you’d develop a relationship with a person. You want certain people in your life because you like who they are and how they make you feel… not because they have a fancy sports car.
The benefits of a story rooted in beliefs has tremendous longevity because you’re not building off things that will change. The brand video that Apple created over 17 years ago has a consistent story to their current videos because they have built their brand on an emotional platform. This consistent story helps internally with work-flow and resources because you don’t have re-invent the wheel with each assignment. It also helps build trust with your audience because it is a story they have already have invested in. The key is finding the conceptual sweet spot that feels specific enough to be own-able by your brand, but flexible enough to support all your marketing content and goals.
Over 10 years ago, I chose to focus on motion design because I believe conceptual storytelling and smart design has the power to emotionally connect with people. The landscape has evolved from creating a story for a single video to creating a story that will support an entire brand or campaign. To me, that evolution that’s incredibly exciting. I’ve always loved the part of the process where you’re searching through the weeds finding the gems that will eventually become the conceptual foundation of your story. It’s the moment of potential, bravery, inspiration and true creativity. It’s not necessarily an easy journey to find your single story, but I believe it’s one that is worth going on.
I wrote this post as a follow up to a presentation that I gave at the Seattle Interactive Conference in October 2014. I had a lot of inquiries on certain points, so I hope this helps. Please contact me directly if you’d like a more detailed perspective of this presentation.
Reference & Inspiration – Simon Sinek