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It’s the story, stupid. It’s always been the story.

Empathy is a wonderful thing. It gives us the power to put ourselves in the shoes of those we hope to serve. And to create things that have real meaning for them.

Empathy is high on the list of things I want to continue to work on. But I need to be careful. Sometimes I want to so understand what my prospect needs and desires that I get lost. It’s too easy to get hung up, trying to understand and solve everything at once. When it all feels overwhelming. When it feels like too much, I go back to that one thing that will make everything clear. I go back to the Big Audacious Meaning and the story we created to bring it to life.

Crafting a relevant and meaningful story is the foundational touchstone that delivers that elusive clarity that we all too often find ourselves in need of.

All that complexity and all those questions seem less challenging because we have a beacon guiding the way, keeping us safe from the hazards.

One of the most compelling tools I give clients is the anthem. This usually comes immediately after the Big Audacious Meaning clarification process. The anthem expresses the story of the profound impact the organization will have on those around it. Rather than default to a list of goals and objectives, the anthem employs the story form to make the message unforgettable and inspiring.

I can’t tell you how many times I have struggled with a branding challenge. And at the height of frustration, reminded myself that, “It’s the story, stupid.”

This happened recently. I was working on a website refresh. And I wanted the homepage to have something special. Something that would capture the zeitgeist of this organization. I wrestled with the challenge. Nothing seem quite right. As I felt the frustration rising, I remembered that admonition and I went back to the anthem we had created for the brand. And lo and behold, there it was. In the language of that story was the piece that would become the striking introduction.

I will never stop working on my empathy. Even though from time to time it leads me down a path where I begin to feel overwhelmed. Because I know I have something that will make everything clearer. It’s the Big Audacious Meaning. And the story that brings it to life.

Dan is an expert brand strategist and author of the forthcoming book Big Audacious Meaning — Unleashing Your Purpose-Driven Story. He is a founder at Will & Grail — a brand innovation company, helping organizations find their unique, undeniable and unshakable sense of purpose and create innovative experiences that bring it to life.

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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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