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EPISODE 47: Core Brand Stories: The Origin Story

by Aug 17, 2021Messaging, Podcast

In this episode we will cover:

  • What a business’s Origin Story is
  • Why the Origin Story is important
  • How to craft a powerful Origin Story
It’s time for our next podcast mini-series! For the next few episodes, we’re going to dive into storytelling, and five core stories we believe every business should know how to tap into.

In this episode, we’re starting at the beginning: The Origin Story.


What is the Origin Story?

At its core, the Origin Story is exactly what it sounds like—the very beginning of a business. What has your company’s journey looked like from its inception to now? How did you go from initial idea to full-fledged entrepreneur? What challenges, missteps, or failures have you faced along the way?

Beyond the basic facts, your Origin Story is a great place to help demonstrate the more intangible aspects of your business: your values and vision, your inspirations and dreams. The best Origin Stories are aspirational and bring relationships to the forefront. Who are you passionate about serving, and how will you do it? How will you focus on growing your business or using it to make your community {or the world!} a better place?


Why the Origin Story is important?

Your Origin Story is important for quite a few reasons. A business’s “About” page on its website is frequently the second most visited page after the “Home” page. People want to know about your business!

Your Origin Story tells potential customers and clients so much about you. Sure, they can learn the basics like where you’re located or who’s in charge. But it’s also where they get the first taste of your expertise (How long have you been in business? What obstacles have you overcome to get to where you are now?). Plus, they get a feeling for your goals and values, which helps them form a stronger connection to your brand.


How to craft a powerful Origin Story

As you may have realized by now, the Origin Story at first seems simple, but that’s actually a bit deceiving. It’s actually doing a lot more heavy lifting for your business than just listing some basic facts. So, how do you make sure your Origin Story has the most powerful impact on your audience?

Try asking these questions:

  • What drove you to start your business? Where were you in your life? How were you feeling?
  • What had you tried (if anything) prior to that?
  • What was it like in the early days of your business?
  • Are there any specific challenges you’d like to highlight?
  • What’s changed since you started your business?

Remember, your Origin Story doesn’t need to be a boring list of facts. It should paint a picture for your audience that draws them in and gets them invested in your brand.

If you’re a writer looking to learn more about diving into storytelling, join us in the Polaris Writer Lounge.



Jessi: Welcome to the Brand Your Voice Podcast, where we’re digging into how you can create personality-driven content that connects and converts. I’m Jessi… Marie: …and I’m Marie. We’re the co-founders of North Star Messaging + Strategy, where we support business owners in outsourcing content without sacrificing authenticity. Jessi: Every brand has a unique voice that sets it apart. We're digging into how to capture the way your brand communicates from the words you use to the stories you tell. So you can create more compelling content that strategically helps you meet your business goals. Marie:,/b> And if you choose to outsource that content, you'll be able to do so with confidence, knowing your brand voice is in good hands and you can reclaim your time. We're so glad you're here and hope you enjoy this episode. Hi there, Marie here, and it's time for another episode of the Brand Voice Podcast. I'm flying solo today, and I'm going to be kicking off another little series of episodes. This is five episodes about the different types of core brand stories that you as a writer can really help your client extract from their mind and really help them leverage it in their content. So maybe aptly, we're going to be starting with the origin story. And I think about the origin story is it seems really simple, right? Everybody has one on their about page or wherever. But this simplicity truly can be a deception because at the end of the day, the origin story of a brand of a business of an entrepreneur is not a list of everything that's happened to them. It's a curated journey that you're taking the audience through. But for the person who's lived, it, it can be extremely tough to figure out which parts to curate, which parts to showcase and which parts to let fall by the wayside because to them, probably everything they've experienced has really helped them along the journey and made a difference. And so oftentimes you'll end up with origin stories that are sort of been DIYed by a brand that are either, um, really long kind of irrelevance, just kind of a snooze Fest. The other frustration that often happens is it'll be all about things like the company was started at this time and then moved to the new headquarters and wherever at this time. And it's like, right. So all that stuff can matter. All that stuff can be included. But at the of the day business is about relationships and relationships are between people. And so being able to show some of the values of the brand, being able to show their dreams, their vision, what inspired them along the way, right? Even if it was founded by somebody who is no longer a part of it anymore, because maybe they passed away or they sold the company or whatever the case may be, they're onto the next great adventure professionally. We can still talk about those things. So here's what I believe about origin stories. And about your role as a writer in helping. You, the writer, are uniquely positioned to help guide your client, to share the most relevant, powerful, and emotionally connective parts of their origin story. You, because you haven't lived their life, and because you haven't been a part of the business all this time can take that 30,000 foot view in a way that they can't because you know what, they're driving the car. And whether that car is, you know, an ancient beat up Toyota, that's a hand me down or it's like a Ferrari, they're on the road, they're in the middle of the map. You can see the whole map. You can help them connect the dots between where they started, where they are right now. And here's the crucial thing: where they're going. Because I think this is the part of the origin story that often gets forgotten. Sure. The feature isn't part of the origin, but it's the next logical place on that journey. Right? And so to me, I really powerful origin story is one that speaks to the human elements. It connects on an emotional level, and it says, and here's what we're doing. Like, here's what we've done. And here's what we're doing from here in a way that speaks to the audience. And I think if you're looking for a really great example of this, this is a general example, not a specific one, but think about non-profits right. For instance, here's, here's a nonprofit that had been a client of ours in the past and then I still just have so much fondness for it's called the Julie Rogers Gift of Life Program. It's in Beaumont, Texas, which is in east Texas, which is, you know, an underserved part of the state. There are a lot of people in that area who do not have the financial means to be able to prevent and then treat different types of cancer. And today this nonprofit, and I don't have current numbers in front of me. In fact, it wasn't even planning on talking them, but I, it just came to me, I'm taking the inspired step here. They serve a huge number of people in the Beaumont area, multiple counties. I want to say seven counties in Texas by providing free health screenings, most specifically for breast cancer and prostate cancer. And they also treat fully, they pay for the treatment of prostate cancer and they pay for all of the diagnosis and, you know, imaging and biopsies and all of that that's needed for breast cancer. And then they connect those patients with local resources to help them get the treatment that they need. But in the beginning, it didn't start off that way. There's a woman who needed to Regina Rogers. Who's an amazing human who started it, it's called again, like I said, that Julie Rogers, so that's her mom and her mom had breast cancer. And so she decided to set up a fund to support people in the area, suffering with breast cancer, needed some support. And it's really grown from there. But I think crucially, it's taking a look at where they're going in the future, right? Because it's not just about what they're doing at this point and all the steps that went from this initial small fund, just to help a few people who were, who'd been given a breast cancer diagnosis to the thousands of people that they serve every year now. So look into the future because things have happened in Beaumont, right? I mean, the pandemic happened everywhere, but of course it impacted Beaumont. And because Beaumont is a coastal area near the Gulf of Mexico, they also have suffered some pretty severe flooding and damage due to hurricanes. And that has changed the way that they're thinking about their place in the community and the way they can serve the community. And so, including that within the origin story actually gives us a clue as to where they're headed next, because it shows something really important, which is they're responsive. They're able to grow and adapt. As you know, messaging is so much more than just saying the words, it's proving it with your actions. To me, messaging, isn't just the words on your website or your mission statement or your sales page. It's your customer service, it's your contracts, your sales process, it's your client interactions, it's everything, right. And so when you're able to show, Hey, we like, like the Gifts of Life Program, if you're able to show, Hey, you know, we are sensitive to the needs of our community and we're continually paying attention to that and adapting to better serve them. That shows that, that flexibility, that the organizations had, the growth that they've had. Isn't a point A to point B. It's a point A to point B to question mark, right? And that those values and qualities that have showed up for them and carry them thus far are still a part of them and are going to carry them even further. So that's my little spiel on why I think it is totally valid and personally, I think important to look to the future when you have the origin story, not just the past. So you're probably looking for a few tidbits, so what I would suggest in terms of how to capture this from your clients is first of all, sure, take a look at what they've got. They may have an about page that they love. But they may not realize that their about pages kind of like their most visited page a lot of the times after the homepage, because people want to know who's behind this thing. What their story is, this is so crucial. It's not just about, about pages either. It's every time somebody gets on stage it's every time somebody really has any kind of social proof going on, like they, you know, get to be featured in a Forbes article or anything like that. This comes up, the origin story is a huge part of your credibility as a brand. And so what I would suggest is don't just take what they have, but see if you can peg them down for an interview. Like a phone interview or a zoom interview and ask them questions. And tell them on the front end, Hey, look, I know you've already have an about page. I know you've probably already answered these questions before. Humor me. I would love to hear this again, because first of all, you're going to say it in your voice, and that's going to continue helping me refine the voice of your brand and the values of your brand. But B there are some things that you may say, some connections we may be able to make when you're speaking out loud and no longer self-editing the way you would when you're writing that otherwise I don't have access to. So ask them some questions around, you know, what drove them to start the brand. Where were they in their life? What were they feeling? What was going on for them? What was that moment of I have to change something or I have to do something? Because people don't just start businesses on a whim. They usually start them because they see a need or they are really passionate about something. See if you can figure out what that core nugget is, get into the emotions of it, find out what they were feeling. Find out what their hopes were. And also you can ask them, you know, what did you try before this? If it's something where they, you know, for instance, um, have a cupcake business. And maybe before that, they had tried, you know, going and being a baker somewhere at someone else's bakery. And you know, it was great, but they maybe didn't have the level of creative expression that they really wanted or whatever it is. See if you can figure out what were those little frustrations, those little pain points prior to it. And again, find out what was that tipping point for them. Ask them what it was like in the early days, because you're going to see already just so many differences between the way that it was and the way it already is. Things have changed. They've learned a lot. And so getting them to think back to those early days will help you reflect on that. And you can invite them to explore any specific challenges that they've addressed, overcome, faced, what happens in those challenges. And then here's where you, as the writer, remember, you're that, you're in the cockpit 30,000 feet above the road. And so see, as they're bringing up challenges, are there any of those challenges that relate to what their audience is expressing? Their audience is feeling? And if they're kind of not figuring that out on their own, they're not volunteering that information on their own you can ask that. Because if you already know what their audience is needing or wanting, you can ask them, Hey, were you needing or wanting that too? Or how did you recognize that that was a need for people. Because you may be able to get a story out of this, right? Like, well, you know, Bob kept coming into the bakery and he really wanted a German chocolate cake, but that just, isn't one of the things on the menu. And he kept saying, Hey, you guys gotta do a German chocolate cake. It's my favorite. And I finally realized, you know, if Bob wants something outside of our typical menu, he's probably not the only guy in town who does. And maybe there is room for me to expand and to, you know, create something of my own. Right. I completely made this up. I'm sure you can tell. And then the final thing you can do is ask, you know, what's changed since you started your business and where are you hoping to go from here? What does the future look like for you? I'm interested to see how it goes for you. Ask them those questions. If you can record it, because you may want to go back and get that transcribed or transcribe yourself and then pull out the language. And then from there you can take the 30,000 foot view and say, okay, this was a great little anecdote I hear and I'm not going to ball it up and throw it in the trash bin because he could probably make a really great social post for them. But it's not really part of the origin story, right? I don't need to go into, you know, specifically what the German chocolate cake recipe was. That doesn't matter. It's not about that. It's about creative expression. That's the theme of this journey, right? So if you can find the theme, then find the pieces of the story, fit that theme and voila, you have a brand origin story for your client. So I hope this was helpful for you. We're going to be digging into additional stories that we like to highlight and uncover with our clients. If you are looking for additional tidbits and support, I want to invite you to join our new free community, The Polaris writer's lounge. When Jessi and I really, really buckled down and got serious about this business we started working with some coaches and mentors. We joined some masterminds and other groups of motivated business owners, and they're really never other writers in those communities. And we have found other communities of writers, but they don't always match our values, or they don't really match our philosophies around messaging and doing so with a lot of compassion. And so if you really do like our approach, not for everyone, but if you like it, I want to invite you to join. This is a free community. You can check it out at northstarmessaging.com/polaris. And it's a community within slack. So that hopefully it's easy for you to hop on in there as you're doing your work, because you may be in some clients slack, or you may have your own slack, and you can just add it to the list of slack communities that you're a part of and check it out. We're going to be having conversations around all the different aspects of being a copywriter and a content writer and content marketer. And so we're excited to welcome you in, well, I hope this has been helpful for you. Thanks for bearing with me as I fly solo today, but it's sure been fun digging into the origin story, which is honestly to me, one of the most fascinating parts of our brand message. Thanks for joining us for this episode of the Brand Your Voice Podcast. Make sure to visit our website, northstarmessaging.com, where you can subscribe to the show on iTunes, Spotify, and more. Jessi: If you found value in this episode, we'd love for you to leave us a review on iTunes and share it with your friends. Thank you, and happy content creating.
For additional content strategy and branding tips, check out northstarmessaging.com/blog. Also, please tag us on Instagram and let us know you’re out there! @northstarmessaging 

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