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Business storytelling is becoming more and more important this year. You are constantly telling stories about your business. Whether that story is told in a speech, in ordinary conversation with co-workers or customers, or on your website or advertising or packaging, your story is aligned with the public face of your company and it must be carefully crafted from your DNA.
So, once you have a clearly delineated DNA, you need to start to create business stories?that embody that DNA. Here is a proven system you might employ. And of course, you can also invent your own methodology for business storytelling if you prefer. The key thing is not mine vs. yours, but to understand your Brand DNA and then systematically tell your brand story in a way?that helps disseminate the message of your brand.
Step 1 Brand DNA Creation. What is Brand DNA? The letters DNA? are an acronym for deoxyribonucleic acid, which contains the core biological information that makes one species different than another. Nearly every cell in a person’s body has the same DNA structure and, essentially, it is that which makes you you and similar to, but still different than, other people.
In application to creating a brand narrative or brand story, Brand DNA takes the form of the core of what you want your message to be. The essence of what makes your brand different from all others. It should be expressed in as few words or phrases as possible and they must be words or phrases that epitomize your business’s soul. These key words and .phrases then drive all stories told about the business throughout the marketing process.
Step 2 — Logo/Image Ideation via Physical Metaphors. In order to find a way to systematically differentiate a company and/or product and then navigate a course of action to communicate this differentiation, you need to start with a physical, concrete visual metaphor that embodies who you are in a single glance. Think in terms of a point of uniqueness that is mentioned in your Brand DNA and can be fleshed out in a simple image. This is you at a glance. This is your brand in concrete metaphor. I look at this image and I instantly get what you are about. I understand your brand just from this.
Once you have one or more images that you like, it’s time to start doing some compelling storytelling; it’s time to create a brand narrative that embodies your new meaning? Look at your DNA and your physical logo/metaphor. What kind of story does it make you think of? What kind of story is begging to be told about you?
Step 3 – Story Brainstorming. This step is rather self-explanatory, but it is important. To create fresh and exciting new brand narratives, an environment must be created in which anybody on the team can throw out any story idea without the fear of negative repercussions. My nickname for this step is the Shit & Wit Session. In calling it this, I give everybody permission to come up with the shittiest stories possible. In other words, one must be allowed to say and try any and all stories no matter how good or bad, and in doing so, they might just spur the team on to discovering a truly great narrative.
Step 4 – Brand Narrative First Draft. When the team comes up with one or more brand narratives that everybody likes, it’s time to thrash out the story. (Please note, that when I mention this methodology, I constantly speak of teams not individuals. Sure, an individual can engage and successfully execute this process, but I prefer engaging in this methodology with teams. This process works best with teams of knowledgeable, passionate individuals who know the brand and can work in concert to create a brand narrative that is more powerful than something than any one individual can come up with.)
So work together and release any judgment and just create. Write a first draft, no matter how bad it seems, and get it out there on paper or on the computer screen. Finish it. Complete a first draft of a story with a beginning, middle, and end, no matter how good or bad.
Step 5 – Revision & Rewriting. This can sometimes seem like an endless process, but it is a valid and necessary one. There is no right number of revisions necessary, but I always recommend sharing the story with all team members and assimilating their notes and then sharing again. Do as many revisions as necessary until you get universal acceptance by all team members and then, and only then, should you test the story with people outside of the team.
Step 6 – Testing & Fine Tuning. Hollywood does test screenings of all of its films for a reason. No matter how hard you’ve worked on your story, you have to test it and then, as a result of that test, fine-tune it and test it again before you go out to the public with it. There is nothing to be ashamed of here. Stories have to be refined over and over again before they are ready for consumption.
Step 7 Brand Narrative Fruition Across All Media This it is about determining what forms that story should take oral, print, video, online, internal, external, etc. and then adapting the brand narrative to fit that form of media.
I have come to see through experience that the methodology of this 7-step process is incredibly applicable to far more than just marketing alone. The process has been used successfully in sales, manufacturing, problem solving and team building. Engaging in this process can work as an assessment tool for uncovering core issues, and then it helps users to navigate useable, practical solutions to problems that have arisen. It works in concert with human nature and provides a way for one?s inner brilliance to flow outward instead of being suppressed. The outcomes from this process allow managers to stop draining their efforts on managing consequences and resolve issues once and for all, regardless of their category of work.
And please note, ideally, yes, anybody should be able to understand this methodology and employ it, but I also must say that this not a simplistic tool that anybody can just plug in. It helps to have an experienced facilitator to really work it properly — one that is outside of the team and can give objective feedback as the brand narrative is created, nurtured and then executed across different media platforms.