Riding for the Brand

Which brand do you ride for? Is it clearly printed on your materials or hidden in a secret location?

What does the brand stand for? Is it consistent with our organization’s values? Does it bring forth emotion and a nod of understanding?

Do people line-up to join the cause or does it divide? What is the brand’s intention? What is the story everyone tells?


Stories about our stories are fascinating.  Take Ernest Hemingway’s well-know six-word story.  “For Sale, Baby Shoes, Never Worn.”  The story is remarkable but additionally so are the stories attempting to confirm the authenticity of Hemingway’s sentence.

At Chris Guillebeau’s Pioneer Nation gathering near Mt. Hood, Oregon I attended sessions dedicated to crafting one’s message.  Creating a compelling story frequently returned to the following outline:

  • Start with a hook (draw the listener in)
  • Offer a brief introduction (who are you and why do you matter?)
  • Deliver the content (what is the message)
  • Make a call to action (empower the listener to take immediate action)

There are many stories online to serve as templates.  Visit Kickstarter or gofundme to see examples of individuals telling remarkable and not so compelling narratives.  Review of data demonstrate that an initial promotional story/video needs to be less than 1:45 in length before the attrition rate grows (and the viewer misses our call to action).  As we build an audience the length of the stories may expand.

Classic stories began ‘once upon a time’, which served as both the hook and the introduction.  The challenge today is to engage with those who are served by our stories.  Not every story will resonate but those that find our content meaningful will celebrate each chapter.

Here are a couple masters of storytelling using a variety of approaches.

Coat of Arms

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If you were to design a coat of arms for yourself, how would it manifest itself?  What symbols would you include? Colors? Accents? What would be the story contained within the shield?  What if you were to merge with another kingdom?  What symbols would you keep?  Which would you be willing to forgo in order to make space to incorporate symbols that were important to your new partner?

What is Your Real Story

Real stories are authentic, mind blowing, perplexing, rough, silent, obscene, sudden, painful, long, joyful, and unique.  We have our elevator story, the synopsis of ours life that is worthy of a couple floors.  What is the story we would tell nightly dinner guests during a trans-Atlantic cruise?  A story so momentous that it requires breaks.  Where plot lines simply fall off into recessed depths (or do they rise out of sight) and yet we continue, undeterred.  People want to hear these stories.  The ones without editors or a communication departments.  One hundred and forty characters may grab a headline but it is hard to change my life without telling the rest of the story.