The founder’s story…
It’s not just any story.
It’s THE story.
It’s the story of you, your mission, and how your brand brings your mission to life.
Overlook it and you risk having a forgettable brand in a sea of products.
Craft it carefully, and you can create a powerful narrative that touches and inspires people.
The founder’s story is unique.
Are you ready to tell yours?
There are many kinds of communications, but there’s nothing as moving as storytelling.
Stories work because the listener doesn’t just hear the story, they are transported into the story. They’re so memorable because not only can the listener identify with the hero, they can also experience the story as it unfolds.
Think of the number of stories you can recall from your childhood: Aesop’s Fables. Disney movies. The original Star Wars Trilogy, or one of your favorite family stories.
That’s incredible staying power.
In a day an age where everyone is bombarded by messages, posts and ads, imagine your brand’s story lasting the test of time.
The Founder’s story is personal
A founder’s story isn’t an amusing anecdote or a bit of wise advice - it’s the story that links your to your brand’s story.
It explains why your brand exists, and creates a sense of identify, purpose and mission that your product alone can’t.
And when your listeners believe your story, you give them a reason to believe in your brand, too.
Your step-by-step guide to storytelling
Storytelling isn’t hard - it’s one of the oldest forms of communication. Before people could read or write, their history was passed down from generation to generation through stories.
While the content of the stories vary, the story composition has been following the same format throughout time.
YOU are the hero of the story - make your story personal
Every story has a hero who overcomes adversity: Luke Skywalker. Cinderella. Froddo.
Your founder’s story is about you, your struggle and how your solved it.
Tell your story in a way that your listener can empathize with your journey, and you can make your journey, theirs.
Note in other marketing stories, your customer is the hero of your brand story. In this case, the founder’s story, you are the hero going through a transformation.
Think about how you want your listener to feel when you tell you story
Yep. Feelings. Emotions.
Emotions create the bond between the story's hero and the listener, and they make stories more memorable.
Start by thinking of the ONE emotion you want your listener to feel. Do you want them to feel curious? Inspired? Motivated? Happy?
As you write your story, keep this emotion in mind, and it will help you keep you story on track.
Clarify the ONE takeaway you want your listener to know
Start planning your story with your end in mind. This is the reason you’re sharing it.
Think about the ONE thing you want your listener to know about you or your brand at the end of your story. It's the big "aha." In storytelling language, this is the moral of the story.
Remember, you’re crafting your story to build trust and loyalty.
Here are some potential takeaways that reinforce those goals:
- She understands me… (therefore her product makes sense)
- THAT’s me, and I want to be like that (I want to be like him, and it make sense why his product works)
- OH... if she can do it. So can I (I'm just like her, so I trust her process will work)
- I share the same values and beliefs as the founder (That makes me feel better about trusting him)
- WOW… that could be me… I never realized that was so important (Now I realize that I need their product)
Help your listener envision how their life will be different because of your product
Once your audience understands the "aha" moment - tell them how your brand will change their lives.
Plan your story:
Where does your story begin?
People want to know - What was the genesis of your product? The clearer you can articulate the background of your story, the easier it is for your listener to identify with you.
Think back before you had a product: what problems were you having? What goals were you trying to achieve? What were you struggling with? Give your listener a starting point and a frame of reference so your journey and discoveries make sense.
What triggered you to start your brand? What was the conflict or struggle that started it all?
Every product helps solve a problem or achieve a goal. What triggered you to think, "I’m going to invent a product, create an app, or develop a program?"
For some founders, this is a tough step: they're afraid to talk about their conflicts and struggles. But this is the secret sauce that makes a story great.
Your hopes, fears, dreams and struggles humanize your story, and help your listener step into your shoes and experience your story right along with you.
What were some of the critical milestones that changed your path along the way?
Your twists and turns make your story authentic, and adds an element of suspense. Don't be afraid to take your listener on a journey.
- Start by identifying mistakes, strokes of luck, unexpected twists and turns, moments of doubts, smart bets and the like.
- Then think about the moral of your story, and choose 1 or 2 milestones that were instrumental in forming the moral of your story.
What was the turning point that changed everything?
If you want to have a memorable story, your story needs a conflict.
This is the moment of truth, and the biggest conflict that your story is building up to. Your turning point doesn’t have to be a deep dark secret. It can be a funny or embarrassing moment, as long as it's something your audience can identify with.
You faced a crisis, now make sure you tell people how it ended. Your story needs resolution.
What’s the moral of the story?
There was a point to your story - now is the time to reveal it.
Tell your listener your big learning, your big "aha." Then explain the result of your "aha" moment. Show how your product, brand or business was a direct outcome of what your learned.
End by explaining where you're at today
You just told the story of how your started your business, now fast forward and tell them your status today. Help them see how their lives could change with your product.
For example, you can explain some of the following:
- What problem does your brand or product solve
- Who are you helping
- What products or services do you offer
- How has your business changed?
- What are some of your successes
- Where do you plan to go from here?
Depending on the situation, you can add on a call to action too.
Now pull it all together into your story
As an example, here’s my founder’s story.
[Context and introduction]
Let me start my story by telling you where I am today: I’m on a mission to unlock the potential of people and ideas. And I do it by helping people with a skill we use every day, but neglect.
I’m passionate about communication, because for much of my career, I was someone with something to say, but struggled to say it. But I didn’t realize how much poor communication was slowing my career until I made my first presentation to a vice president.
Early in my career I was a HR manager, where I developed a game changing approach that reversed attrition of new managers. It worked across the board, including with high risk groups such as women and minority populations. The implications were significant, and my program made visible and measurable improved advancement, engagement, and bottom line results.
My plant manager suggested that I roll out my training across the company, and she arranged for me to present to the HR VP. I was excited and so honored. My first solo VP presentation!
My plan was to dazzle the VP. I loaded my presentation with facts, figures and examples, and pitched with passion.
I had passion, yes, but no focus.
[Turning point - Crisis]
When I finished my presentation, the VP smiled and said, “Ummm…. Yes. Thank you. You certainly are enthusiastic, but I have NO idea what you’re talking about.“
I was crushed.
Fortunately my boss, Ann, jumped in and rescued the presentation, and the VP approved the rollout.
The program was a great success, and we taught workshops around the US until it became a corporate HR program. It even expanded to other parts of the globe.
Just think...the difference between complete rejection and global rollout was how it was presented.
[Moral of the story]
I learned a valuable lesson that day.
It doesn’t matter how smart you are, and it doesn’t matter how brilliant your idea is, if your message is muddled, your idea is dead.
My presentation disaster really opened up my eyes to the number of opportunities that were going down the drain just through a failure to connect.
[So what… here’s the result of the moral - here’s my company]
After that day I vowed to improve my communication, and to share what I learned with others.
I started studying memorable marketing campaigns, viral headlines and successful authors and bloggers. I identified predictable patterns and formats, and turned them into templates that I applied in my own communication.
Then one day I became someone who could communicate complicated ideas without unnecessary details.
Strong communication helped me so much that I shared what I learned with as many people as I could. To reach more people, I started blogging. As my blog grew, I left corporate life, and founded my company, Evoke. Evoke means to unlock hidden, untapped and realized potential.
[Here’s where I’m at today and how your life could change]
Today Evoke teaches people how to transform their every day communication into a competitive advantage. I've developed fast and effective processes to help people pitch, persuade and present with clarity, confidence and success.
I teach start ups how to explain their value proposition in 20 words or less. Pitch successfully in as few as 10 slides. Overcome objections. And create brand stories that build trust and motivate people to buy.
I have programs for businesses of all sizes from start ups to corporations. Now I’m developing webinar based classes for founders and entrepreneurs, and I’ll show them how to create clear, concise brand messages to communicate who they are, how they’re unique and convince people they’re the best choice.
Your founder’s story is one of your most powerful branding tools
It creates a bond where your listener experiences your journey, and promotes your brand, builds brand loyalty and creates trust.
And bonus - your story isn't just easy to remember, it’s simple to share with others.
Take the time to craft yours.
Then invite your listeners on a journey they won’t soon forget.
Want to see another founder’s story in action?
Take a look at the story of RoadID.
I’m a long time customer and fan of RoadID. I buy them for my family members and recommend them to my friends. I originally bought my RoadID because of the compelling stories of how it helped save lives.
Your story doesn’t need to be fancy or clever to be compelling. Just authentic.
What's a RoadID? Click the video and find out...
Ready to tell your story? Keep the template handy!
Click the image to download the infographic.
Photo / Steve Jurvetson on Flickr - American Justice (Byran Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative)
The most brilliant storyteller I have had the privilege to hear is Bryan Stevenson from The Equal Justice Initiative. Mr. Stevenson was accepting the 2016 American Bar Association's Thurgood Marshall Award, and his 4 stories forever changed how I feel abut justice and what I could do to change injustice.
This picture by Steve Jurvetson is from Mrs. Stevenson's TedTalk, We need to talk about injustice. According to Carmine Gallo, Mr. Stevenson earned the longest standing ovation in the history of TedTalks.