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What brand story will your avid fans tell?

If you’re looking to jumpstart your effort to unify and hone your brand story, this one question is the place to start. Ask, “What story will our avid fans tell?

It’s not unusual that we imagine our customers telling glowing tales of us and what we offer. We can even imagine them detailing our features with exceptional detail.

“The new XYZ couplers not only are durable but meet the most exacting standards for performance and reliability!”

We can hear them giving their personal approval and hearty recommendation while also finding time to work in how we have been serving customers for decades and mentioning our industry-leading accolades — listing them chronologically and highlighting the significance of each.

So the story our customers tell is slightly different. Okay. It’s really different.

First of all, it’s rare that they will remember our features, history, and accolades. Even if they did, do we think they would be able to recite a litany of our attributes in polite conversation? Not likely. Unless, of course, that one customer is hoping to cement his status as a social leper. Or is just a weirdo. Or both.

The story our avid fans tell is about them. Oh, our offering has a place in that story. If we do our job right, they will include us. But our offering will not be the star of this story. To understand this, we need to remember that people don’t buy products and services. They buy better versions of themselves. So when they tell the story, it will be about how they were able to take a step toward that better version of themselves — oh, and they will hopefully mention that it was nice that our offering was there for them in this moment.

Okay, you may be thinking, “That’s all we get — a mention and how it was ‘nice’?”

Yep. Although it may seem like a long way from earth-shaking, we just tapped into the most powerful form of promotion known to man. Word of mouth. Our offering entered the flow of natural conversation — there was no interruptive commercial break. And we got an honest endorsement. This is rarefied territory.

We need to understand that story that our fans will tell. It will be tempting to run out and gather up all the testimonials we can get. Testimonials have their place. But the language of testimonials is not the language our fans use in natural conversation. Go read any of them posted out there. They don’t sound like someone having a conversation. They sound like…well, testimonials.

We need to understand that better version of themselves that our customers are buying. We need to understand how our offering aids them in their journey. And then we need to imagine them having a conversation with a good friend. How would our offering enter the conversation? How would it be referenced? Does it all sound plausible and real? Write it down and say it out loud as if it were you having the conversation. Do you sound real? Keep working at it until it works.

If we do this earnestly, we will have identified the significance of our offering to their lives.

That is crucial. Because it is where our powerful brand story begins. It will give us the mojo to earn our way into their personal conversations. It’s where our story becomes their story.

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 — 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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