We all want that brand story that feels undeniably irresistible. A story that effortlessly engages people. A story that inspires and creates a deep connection. So what’s keeping us from such a story? Here are a few of the usual suspects.

You forgot who the hero of your story is

As marketers, we’re eager to get the word out about our offering. The first instinct is to start talking about ourselves and what we offer. We treat ourselves as the heroes of our brand stories. We are not. Those we hope to serve are the heroes.

Put yourself in their shoes. Would you really want to hear an organization…


Great brands know how to share. I’m not talking about letting us know about their most recent product rollout or sharing the latest news about their organization. I’m talking about the kind of sharing that delivers surprise and delight. Like sharing know-how. Or better yet, sharing something that entertains while it enlightens us. Or maybe even something that inspires. Brands that know how to do this are the ones that elevate themselves above the sea of sameness that most brands flounder in.

Offering vs. sharing

The default setting for most brands is not (unfortunately) to share.

Sales manager: “We share.”

Me: “Is that…


In the past, those your hope to serve would get to the end of the brand story and begin to see how the brand could enhance in their lives. They would begin to see the ‘what’s in it for me’ proposition. This is how branding operated for years.

But then, purpose became a thing. And with it came the realization that epic brand stories don’t end with the ‘what’s in it for me’ proposition. Epic brand stories go one step further and illustrate the ‘what’s in it for us’. …


Purpose is talked about a lot. Most of the conversation surrounds the mojo purpose can bring to a brand. From attracting and energizing team members to inspiring prospects to join a movement to make a difference for the people and communities a brand serves.

As I was writing my book, I was excited about the emerging research and real-life examples that confirmed what I call the mutually catalytic power of purpose. In other words, how purpose can help a brand make a difference in the world while at the same time helping it grow and flourish. Purpose creates a virtuous…


If you want people to do something, give them a plan. If you want people to do something great, give them a story.

Stories capture our imagination. They inspire us. And stick with us. Stories connect with us in a way that the directives of mere plans simply cannot match.

Unlocking the stories in your organization

You want to rally the troops? Ask them for their stories.

Whenever I am helping an organization introduce a newly clarified purpose, the priority is to find stories inside the organization. …


People will say one thing and do another. They’ll make decisions that seem to defy a logical thought process. Everyone who works with a brand has seen this. People are unpredictable.

Well, not totally unpredictable.

As Dan Ariely has shown us in his excellent book Predictably Irrational, people’s irrational behavior can be predicted. It starts with accepting that we are all creatures whose decisions are driven by emotions.

Trust your gut. It knows more than your head.

Early in my career, I ran into product managers who insisted that any brand communications we created needed to be straightforward. “Just give them the facts” was the mantra.

Being young, I…


What do you offer that is of utmost value to those you hope to engage? Here’s a hint. It’s not what you do (your product, program, etc.). And it’s not how you do it (your service, delivery, etc.) Rather, it is why you do what you do.

The problem is that too many organizations begin to design or redesign their offerings before having clarity on why they do what they do — or what they stand for. As a result, a couple of things tend to happen.

  1. Organizations design offerings that feel generic or ‘me too’.
  2. They design offerings that…

Here is the harsh truth about your brand and the vast majority of brands that populate our world. Nobody wants to hear about you. They don’t want to hear about your products or services. They don’t want to hear about your features or how you function. They don’t want to hear about any of it. Because they have busy lives. And with those busy lives comes a constant stream of challenges they need to deal with. So asking them to take a moment and listen to you talk about you just isn’t going to go well.

So what do they…


A brand is defined by everything an organization says and does. It is how the organization shows up in the world. As such, the brand creates a perception. A perception of what people can expect from the organization.

This is inescapable for every brand. Even if a brand doesn’t set out on the path to do the things that lead to a desired perception. In other words, people will form a perception whether the brand likes it or not.

I have worked with organizations that complained that the brand got a bad rap for no good reason. Inevitably, there is…


Bringing purpose into your brand story is one of the most potent things you can do to strengthen your brand. I have helped a number of brands do this over the years. Throughout that time, I have seen select brands accelerate the process. It happens when they follow a simple piece of advice I give. It’s advice that you can use to do the same. Here it is:

Clarify your personal brand before you attempt to do the same with your organization.

Why examine ‘brand you’?

Sometimes, you have people on your team who will just hurry through the process of clarifying the organization’s…

Dan Salva

Dan is an expert brand strategist and author of the book Big Audacious Meaning — Unleashing Your Purpose-Driven Story. He is a founder at Will & Grail.

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