Defining your brand through a story map
The phrase, "What's your story?" is HUGE right now. It's what we ask people when we meet them for the first time, it's how we know what they love, what they didn't love, what problems they want to solve, and it gives us an idea of where they want to go. All of those nosy questions can be wrapped up into a simple, "So...what's your story?" Donald Miller, author and speaker, has developed a whole new company/movement based on the idea of a brand having a story called StoryBrand. While I haven't seen him speak in person (though I get to in November at Christy Wright's Business Boutique event!), I've spent some time researching the company because I think understanding the story of your business...knowing your "why"...your elevator speech...are all SO IMPORTANT. Not just because it tells other people about you, but because it serves as a reminder to yourself. It becomes a cornerstone to revisit when you're amid a project that is never ending. After receiving a disappointing client email, it's the gentile voice whispering to you that recalls the pivotal change of heart which drew you to this adventure in the first place. We must know our stories.
As a performer and lover of theater (which, after all, is just elaborate storytelling), I found the best way to know my story inside and out, backwards and forwards, was to create a brand story map. You remember those, don't you? The ones that your literature teacher assigned for every book that seemed tedious and unimportant? Did you know that you can apply this tool to your LIFE? You can! AND IT IS AWESOME. Here's mine:
This is a tool I developed especially for brands to define their stories. What built up to that moment when you said, "You know what. I'm doing this thing." What were the actions you took to bring you to your resolution? For me, there were two opportunities I was offered that proved to me I wouldn't fall when I made the jump into a #rogue adventure. When I tell people about why I'm doing what I am with my career, I always point to the basic outline of this story map as a guideline for my answer. You'll be surprised how this simple exercise can forever ingrain your "why" into your head...we are a people who remember stories over fact - every time!
You might be thinking, "Ah but Leslie, there's a flaw here. Books have endings. Am I to suppose my brand ends with the resolution?" What an excellent question. No, I do not think that at all. I am an imagineer, and because of this, I believe that stories do not end. Books have to end (have you ever heard of a never-ending book?), but stories? No, they continue on. We might get a final episode at the end of a series that jumps ahead in time (of course I'm talking about the Parks and Recreation Series Finale), but are we to assume that Leslie and Ben get into that car and stay there? We do not.
Our brand's stories are the same way. We may find a resolution, but this is simply the beginning. The resolution will evolve and grow...that's how stories are. But as long as you know how the resolution was arrived at in the first place, you will have a more confident front when speaking with clients, employers, naysayers, bots, and haters alike!
Perhaps you'd be interested to try out this exercise? I'd love to send it to you. Follow this link and I'll get it sent out right away!