Our Common Bond is Our Unique Origin
As human beings, we all come from somewhere. We’ve taken first steps, read that first book, faced scary teachers, and endured bloody knees. These are emotional experiences that virtually all of us can relate to.
So it is with brands. Like people, they all have a story to tell that can connect with the hearts of their audience – where decisions are made. A brand without an origin story is like a person without a hometown. An origin story provides grounding. It gives powerful insights into the brand soul and mission that your audience can feel on a gut level. As such, it’s an important part of your nutritious Brand Story Pyramid.
So what is it exactly? For a brand, you might define Origin Story as a (hopefully) inspiring and memorable human tale or turn of fate that launched an entirely new thing into this world. And yes, it can be brief. “We come from a long line of Peruvian Alpaca ranchers so Fuzzy Buddies Petting Zoo is really a natural extension of our family heritage.”
Summer Hobby, Family Loss, Happenstance – Origins Come from Anywhere
There were these two guys named Tom, who used to mix tasty fruit juices in a blender. They realized they had a unique and tasty product to offer, and started selling it off their boat one summer to other boaters in Nantucket Harbor. It took off. Nantucket Nectars is now owned by Snapple and worth millions, and enjoys a lovely origin story. You gotta love two regular guys selling juice off their boat!
A young biomed student watched her father succumb to pancreatic cancer after years of decline. She goes on to create a pancreatic cancer early detection device that could save millions. Her success now hinges on inspiring the right development partners. Her pitch deck could start with her tech innovation; but the simple story of her wrenching motivation will immediately connect to her audience on a deeper, human level.
Some origin stories just capture a flash of coincidence or insight, but can distinguish your work for generations. As in 1928, when scientist Alexander Fleming noticed a petri dish of bacteria accidentally left open, and had started growing mold. He noticed the mold had inhibited the bacteria’s growth, and voila! The birth of penicillin – still used today to heal millions around the globe.
How to Roll Your Own
Yes, we all have them, as people or as brands. That doesn’t mean we’re tapping into them well, or at all. Here are some thought-starters to help you find that golden nugget of experience or inspiration.
- Do you have any funny/odd/embarrassing talents that you’ve never had a practical use for? How might they relate to the purpose of your business, even in a metaphorical way?
- Who will benefit the most from your brand promise? Do you feel a special connection to them, and why?
- What do you/your co-founders have in your past that gives you an “unfair advantage” in creating a successful company? Was there anything unusual about this past?
- What has motivated you to build this brand – truthfully. Can you prove a genuine motivation through your past experience or actions?
- What has been the greatest pain in your life? How have you overcome it? How does it relate to your business goals and activities?
Just be sure that this story is authentic, as you’ll be telling it over and over. To paraphrase Mark Twain, if you don’t tell lies you have less to remember.