How to Find Stories for Your Brand Within Your Organization

29 Keys to Source Your Company’s Stories

Help where do I find stories for my marketing?

While it’s easy to say that stories are at the core of marketing, finding these stories may not be so easy. For many marketer’s, your company’s narratives may not be obvious. Or, they may be so familiar to you as an insider that you regard them as “ho-hum” or they may be tucked away in an obscure corner of your organization. You need to get into an inquisitive mindset, like a child listening to a bedtime reading, and think about what is notable in the various aspects of your company, products, brands and employees.

To get started mining your firm’s stories, here’s a list of questions to help get you develop some workable concepts:

Company

  1. How did your company start? Think in terms of your firm’s “once upon a time”.
  2. What adversities did the company overcome, either in its early days or at some other critical point?
  3. What’s a day in the life of your company like?
  4. How did your company do something positive to make life better for its community or customers?
  5. What did your company do to pitch in for a local problem? Think of Walmart’s effectiveness during Katrina.
  6. Does your firm have a special association with a particular holiday? This doesn’t mean a sales promotion.

Products

  1. How did your products come into being? Is there lore around their creation?
  2. How did the company founders start making the products and why? Are there special details that the public doesn’t know?
  3. Are there historical events related to your product that are special for  your firm?
  4. Are there special myths or legends related to your products that can be adapted for your company?
  5. Are there any famous people who are associated with your product? Can you embellish the story?
  6. What’s unique about your product that sets it apart from the competition?

Brands

  1. What is your brand’s history? Why is it important?
  2. Is your brand associated with any special national or regional events? What are they and why?
  3. Has your brand changed over time? Is there a story related to these changes?
  4. What is the story behind of your brand’s logo?
  5. Does your brand have an official spokesperson? If so, what is the reason for this relationship and what stories are associated with it?
  6. Does your brand appear in any other cultural context? Think of Campbell’s Soup and Andy Warhol
  7. Is there any lore or traditional stories associated with your brand? Why are they important?
  8. Is your brand associated with a cause? If so, what is the story behind this relationship?
  9. Does your brand have a mascot? If so, what is the story behind this association? Think of Geico’s gecko or Corning’s use of the Pink Panther.

Employees

  1. What did your company founders do? What inspired them? Can your employees or customers relate to this history?
  2. Have any of your employees done something special for the community?
  3. What are your employees like? Can you do a series of employee profiles?
  4. What do your employees do to produce your products? Does this give a human face to your organization?
  5. What is the personal story of your senior management? Have they done anything that provides lessons for your customers?
  6. Has anyone in your organization done anything heroic? Think Scully landing his US Airways airplane in the Hudson River.
  7. Are any of your employees members of the military, volunteer firemen or other first responders?
  8. Are any of your employees members associated with a special cause?  If so, what is it and why is it important?

Getting these ideas to percolate is the first step. Don’t believe that you have to do this all by yourself. Get help from everyone in your company. Make it a fun activity.

Do you have any other suggestions to add to this list to find in-house stories you can leverage in your marketing? If so, please add them in the comments section below.

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen


Tip of my hat to Trey Pennington for inspiring me to think about story telling and its relationship to marketing.  He was the guest at the SocialCMO’s #MMChat.

Photo credit: KatieB50 via Flickr


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  • Aaron

    Psst. Owens-Corning and Corning are not the same company. OC and “in the pink” have no relation to the venerable Corning, NY, firm of the same name – except that OC was formed orginally as a JV with Corning on one side.

    • http://riversidemarketingstrategies.com/ Heidi Cohen

      Aaron–Thank you for the clarification. The wisdom of crowds always trumps one individual’s knowledge. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

  • http://www.journalistforhire.com Jon Boroshok

    This is a great piece. I’m an Adjunct instructor at Emerson College (Boston) and Bentley University (Waltham, MA), and plan to “recommend” (ha!) this to my students next semester as we learn about writing case studies. As a group project, teams of students build a marcom strategy/plan for nonprofits orgs, and this article will be a very useful tool for that too. Thanks for sharing it!

    • http://riversidemarketingstrategies.com/ Heidi Cohen

      Jon–Glad that this article helps you and your students. People underestimate how challenging it can be to create a story around something you know very well. The points of interest are too close. Stay tuned there is another related column scheduled for next week. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

  • http://Www.brandlikearockstar.com Steve Jones

    Great piece. So many brands fail to realize that when people buy into your story, the usually buy into your products. Stories are communication, not spam.

  • http://www.maternalinstinct.com Kat Gordon

    Heidi, this is a terrific list. I’d also try to get to the voice of the customer, i.e. “What do your happiest customers say about your company?”

    I’ve found that it’s best to ask questions like this in person (rather than email) because often a live conversation can unearth details that someone might “edit out” in a written reply.

  • John Cameron

    Great questions. I’ve bookmarked the article. I’d also like to suggest asking the clients why they bought what they did. You’ll get some surprising answers, in an interesting way, from people who are outside the bubble so to speak. http://www.rock-solid-business-coach.com/

  • https://twitter.com/IHeartTrends TinaSalacup

    I’m sharing this to my team for our upcoming fundraising project for typhoon Haiyan victims in the Philippines :)