The business world loves a good garage-to-riches story. Apple, Microsoft, Google, even Disney started in garages. We don’t tell these origin stories to glorify garages: a good brand story has weight because it’s human nature to connect with regular people who started simply with big dreams and found success against all odds.
Every company’s origin story is unique, which is one reason they can make such powerful marketing messages: your story makes you different from everyone else in the market. That story can be recounted in countless different ways on every conceivable channel, but if you really want to tell your brand story in a way that captures attention and inspires, experiential marketing is the most powerful way to connect directly with your audience, and invite them to become a key player in the next chapter.
Channel Your Inner Superhero
If people are truly going to embrace your brand, start by thinking of your brand as a character. Audiences want the details of the first act, tragedy and all — just ask Captain Marvel or Harry Potter. They are the everymen and women who become magnificent, both relatable and inspiring.
Robin Rosenberg, a psychologist who studies superhero fiction, writes “At their best, superhero origin stories inspire us and provide models of coping with adversity, finding meaning in loss and trauma, discovering our strengths and using them for good purpose.”
The same applies in the business universe. Every entrepreneur struggles to get started, and we love to see people rise above the challenges and succeed. That could be us! Hearing how a company went from a garage with no funding to a multi-billion-dollar corporation humanizes their success. We can all relate to that sense of accomplishment, drive, and thrill of realizing you’re onto something.
Relatability is essential in a sympathetic character. The message of a memorable superhero story is never “look how amazing I am,” it’s “look how amazing you can be, too.”
Tell the Simple Truth
People respond to simple truth, and they know it when they see it. Marriott, the largest hotel chain in the world, started as a small A&W Root Beer franchise in 1927, and their passion for hospitality grew from there.
You can find variations on this type of brand origin story among many of the biggest names of today. Facebook emerged from a student app coded in a Harvard dorm room. There were bumps, bruises, and major feature films along the way, but these origin stories can be distilled into a single, concise point in time. It’s tempting to lay out every single detail, especially when it’s your own story, but it’s important to pare down a story to its simplest essence so that it connects with your audience quickly, makes them hungry to learn more, and doesn’t lose them in a fog of specifics. In a world where one company is up against thousands, a single, clear aha moment wins the day.
Know Who the Real Hero Is
Events make ideal venues for telling your brand story because they offer the chance to personally invite a willing audience into your story. As we know, stories are a deeply human way of building connections between people.
Attendees at events have many options. If you’re looking to sell a product, build a story around it. Use interactives, focal points, clear navigation, and make sure your booth staff is telling the same story. Remember that every individual in the audience is a potential hero of the story, your product just helps them along the way. They’re Thor, you provide high quality hammers. Use your brand story as a way of explaining the origins of your product or service, and how it solved a key problem that your audience can relate to.
When telling your brand story at live events through experiences, your design elements should mirror your story and invite the audience in. Consider our recent work with Automation Anywhere, where we created two lightweight, portable spaces for the road, built to look like towering books with flippable pages. An embedded monitor told the story of clients finding ways to overcome relatable challenges with the help of Automation Anywhere’s infinitely flexible tools. The design tempted attendees to become new characters in the story by posing within a framed page, generating an 860% increase in Twitter engagement at one show alone.
The power of a good brand story is that it doesn’t just hold someone’s attention, it makes them want to be part of the narrative, and, ideally, invite others to join as well. Your innovative product may originate from a garage, a gleaming open-plan office, or a 1946 seaplane hangar on San Francisco Bay, but it’s the heart of your story that makes people care.