You’ve probably noticed that in the past 5 years or so, the term ‘storytelling’ has been bandied about, almost ad nauseum. While it’s undoubtedly a great lens for your overall marketing activities, it’s far too often a misunderstood term, or worse yet, misused to justify a host of unrelated exercises in futility.

However, when well-crafted, your brand’s story can be incredibly compelling, and propel your entire marketing program at light-speed.

So, let’s say you’ve determined it’s time for a brand refresh or your company is pivoting, adding a new revenue stream or your company story simply needs sharpening…what’s your first step? Talk to your product teams? Talk to your senior leadership? Poll your external partners?

As with most things in life, the answer is, it depends.

All of those constituents can certainly provide valuable insight for building a powerful brand story. However, I would argue that what’s vastly more important is not whom you speak to, but what questions you ask. (apologies in advance if you’ve mastered this process already, but far too often I meet with founders, CEOs and CMOs who haven’t.)

Of course, there are a 1,000 ways to skin a cat, but start by answering these basic, yet critical questions:

  • What are your company’s 3-4 ‘pillars of differentiation’? (points that even your competition wouldn’t argue with)
  • What’s the one sentence that describes where your company will be in 3-5 years?
  • What’s the one sentence of how your company will achieve that goal

The answers will give you the tools you need to craft several different lengths of your core positioning statement.

From there, you can craft secondary messaging, or your actual storytelling elements. I must emphasize that these are in no way, shape or form, your company or product attributes. Rather, strive to work toward creating 2-4 “story lines” about your brand that are truly unique, compelling, memorable and believable. For each one, determine: the problem you’re solving, the solution you’re company provides, a sort of ‘dream headline’, the actual anecdote (or meat of the story) and lastly, a few supporting data points.

When finished, not only will you have a working document that lays out your brand story, and could potentially be used to prepare for a general press interview, you’ll also have assembled a clean, concise brand structure, that can drive the messaging for your web site, your advertising, your social media strategy, and the 100 other elements of your marketing campaign. All of this, of course, is much easier said than done, but it’s very much worth the time and effort.

Scott Lahde is Principal of ConduitWorks, a marketing consultancy for emerging companies. He can be reached at