Your Transmedia Brand Story Arc Begins With The ‘Why’


I help brands tell their story. I encourage my clients to shout to the world about why they do what they do rather than just about what they do and how they do it.

Why do I do this? Well, besides the fact that it’s one of our agency’s core services and that it forms an integral part of what we believe to be the foundation of a new age brand communication strategy,  I’m passionate and vocal about storytelling.

A while back, I discovered that by being transparent and open about my own story, I’ve forged more meaningful relationships and connections with the people around me including my family, friends and clients.

Why do you do what you do?

Answered correctly, this simple question can form the backbone of your brand story and help inform the manner in which you communicate with your customers, fans and followers; your transmedia story arc if you will.

Simon Sinek spoke so eloquently about this in what is -imo- one of the best TED talks ever, watch…

Brands that know their “Why” win

One of the examples Simon mentions in his talk is Apple.  They have the same access to talent, technology and marketing budgets as all their competitors, but what differentiates them is their grasp of the “why’ and it has made them extremely successful. Year after year, despite the fierce competition, they’re always on top.

More precisely, and as Simon puts it…

“If Apple were like everyone else, a marketing message from them might sound like this: “We make great computers. They’re beautifully designed, simple to use and user friendly. Want to buy one?” “Meh.”

Here’s how Apple actually communicates. “Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use and user friendly.

We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?”

The golden circle; the why? how? and what?

Most brands are good at communicating WHAT they do and HOW they do it.  A few brands -the successful ones- also know why they do what they do and are brilliant at telling the world about it. They know their purpose in life, their cause and core beliefs. They have a strong grasp of WHY their organization exists.

Understanding why you get out of bed in the morning and why anyone else should care will help you achieve all other goals and objectives you’ve set, including the monetary ones.

“People don’t buy what you do; people buy why you do it”.  It’s the feeling they get out of your product or service and what it can do for them that defines your brand.  In a nutshell, When a brand’s personality complements our own, we form a friendship and give it our trust and loyalty.

Simon sums up his TED talk by saying:

People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And if you talk about what you believe, you will attract those who believe what you believe.

Some tips on discovering & developing your “Why”

It may come as a surprise but the answer to your “why” lies not only with you or your advertising agency; it also lies with your stakeholders, your customers, your employees, your shareholders and your fans and followers.

Get to grips with your ‘WHY’ by following these few tips:

  • Invest in brand monitoring software.  Listen to what people are saying about your brand and organisation.  Conduct sentiment analysis and get to grips with your strengths, weaknesses and fully understand why people buy from you.  Also monitor your competition, can you learn anything from them?
  • Use exit surveys on your site.  Ask the questions: have we served you the way you expected?  What can we do better?
  • Engage with your audience.  Use Facebook, Twitter and other relevant social networks to understand why people follow you and examine your social analytics to understand the types of topics that get shared.  Not all updates are equal.
  • Send out employee and shareholder surveys.  Send around anonymous employee and shareholder surveys. Get to grips with why your people work for and invest in you.  It’s not always the pay package or the dividends you pay.
  • Understand your data story.  Ask your digital agency to provide you with your data story.  Don’t just settle for your Google Analytics data, it doesn’t tell your full story.  Use tools such as MousFlow to understand what people do on your site and what type of content interests them.  Think about the micro conversion and not just the final goal.  Most importantly  use BIG DATA to understand the full story.  A search on Google that lead to a conversion is not the full story.

Define & develop your Brand Story Arc and stick with it.

Now that you’ve fully grasped and defined your “brand story arc” and specifically the “WHY” in it, stick with it!  Tell your story consistently across all media and platforms both online and offline (transmedia).  Make sure your story is consistent and stay away from contradiction.

I recently came across this quote:

“big companies do stupid things all the time. It’s a big part of why small startups are often so successful at disrupting them.”

Don’t be “that stupid company”.

Over to you…

Do you know the why in your story?  Do you feel you’re telling it consistently?  What tips can you add to help brands (and individuals) better tell their story? Share your views below…


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