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EPISODE 49: Core Brand Stories: The Innovation Story

by Aug 31, 2021Messaging, Podcast

In this episode we will cover:

  • What a business’s Innovation Story is
  • Why the Innovation Story is important
  • How to craft a powerful Innovation Story

This week we’re continuing our mini-series on core brand stories. Today, let’s dive into the Innovation Story.

A brand’s Innovation Story demonstrates why they’re truly unique, telling the story of their innovation on the marketplace. This could be a product or service, a way they do business, or something else!

Innovation Stories can be tricky, because sometimes entrepreneurs are too close to the situation to understand or articulate what makes them unique. That’s why this story is a great opportunity for writers to step in – a writer can swoop in with more of a bird’s eye view to articulate what the business owner can’t.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • What an Innovation Story is
  • The importance of the Innovation Story
  • How to craft a powerful Innovation Story

We give writers some example questions for how to draw out impactful Innovation Stories in this episode, but if you want to talk it over even more, join us in the Polaris Writer Lounge.

Plus, check out…

Maya x Kiwi


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…

…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.

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.

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, back in your headphones with another episode of the Brand Your Voice Podcast. Today, I'm continuing to fly solo and sharing another great set of tidbits for you for another brand story. So for the last few episodes, I've been talking about the five core brand stories that we like to identify for our clients here at North Star. And I'm giving you some tidbits on what those are and how to find them for your own clients in this series. So this is the third episode in the series we first started two episodes ago, talking about the origin story. Then we started talking about the why and the purpose story. Today, we're talking about the innovation story.
And the way I like to describe this to our clients is you're doing some things that are different from the way other people are doing them, but do people know that? Some brands are really good at capitalizing upon this information and sharing this information. Some brands not so good. And that could be because they struggle to articulate it. They struggled to believe in it. Like, I don't know, is that really all that special? And some brands, honestly, just struggled to even understand what their innovative angle is. Because at the end of the day, it may not actually be the way that they do something, it may be just the way that they operate. But not being able to understand and articulate one's innovative angle really does hinder them. Because at the end of the day, they're not the only company doing what they're doing.
And as we talk about this, and you're thinking about your clients, I want to invite you to think about yourself too, right? Because chances are, you're listening to this as a copywriter. You're listening to me, a copywriter talk about this. If we met people at some kind of networking thing, we might both just say, Hey, I'm a copywriter, but does that make our businesses identical? No. There's certain ways that we handle things that are great for certain clients. And there's certain ways that you handle things that are great for other clients. And there's ways that you're thinking about things that I've never thought about them and vice versa.
So the thing is, I want to do a little mythbusting here at the beginning. You don't have to be completely unique to be innovative. You just need to be able to connect your, or your client's, innovation to humanity, to their audience. You just need to be able to communicate it in a way that clicks, that resonates, makes a difference. And I really believe that you, the writer are uniquely positioned to help them figure out that unique, sort of unique, maybe unique, innovative angle, because they're a little too close to it.
One of the analogies that I was using in a previous episode was, you know, you're 30,000 feet in the air above looking down on the road that they're driving on. And so as if you've been an airplane versus been in a car, you know, it's a little harder to kind of get the lay of the land when you're on the land, because maybe there's a hill and you don't know what's being on the hill and you can't see what other people are doing. And you don't know where the road leads really, but you up in the air have all that perspective.
A lot of the time too, your client may really kind of know that innovative angle, but they need your help articulating it. So let's talk a little bit about an example here. For Christmas, I received a gift and it was a watercolor kit from a company called Maya and Kiwi by a woman named Maya and her cat Kiwi. You can check out her watercolor kits. This is me clicking to her website at Mayaxkiwi.com. And what she says on this website is she talks a little bit about, you know, her origin story and how she came up with this idea to have these kits. But ultimately she does things, a few things in a different way.
So the watercolor kits aren't the cheapest on the market. You're not going to find them in your local hobby store. You pretty much have to buy them from her or buy them on Etsy. And it's better to buy them from her cause she pays less in fees. So why buy from her as opposed to one of the other, probably hundreds of companies offering watercolor kits? Well, one of the things that she talks about is the actual materials are high quality. It's professional grade, cotton paper. It's small enough that you can put it in your briefcase or your laptop bag and pull it out and work on it at the airport or over your lunch break. And all the paints that she gives you are vegan and free of animal cruelty because again, it's her and her cat. Right? And so that's kind of on brand for her. So that's part of her innovative angles, right? We don't have to have an overarching narrative that pulls all these together. Something like, yeah, you can do this while waiting at your airport gate and also it's vegan. It's okay if they don't connect to each other, we're just painting a bigger picture. If you'll forgive the, not exactly pun, but getting kind of close to it for a watercolor company. It's, it's on brand, right? And we're painting a bigger and more complete picture of the values of the company and the ways that Maya does things a little bit differently from others.
But the other part of this is it ties into her why and her purpose. So if you listened to the previous episode, we talked about the why and purpose story and sort of the nugget of that for her is she wants to help people discover the confidence to be creative. And so the actual innovation that allows that to happen, because that doesn't just happen. You know, you don't just buy a kit and it says, good job you, and now you're like, yeah, I can do anything. Like probably that piece of paper isn't going to inspire anybody. Right. But what she does, her innovative angle to make that a reality is she pre draws the drawing for you. It comes with a how to page, it includes a test page. So that way you can try things out before you commit to putting it on the actual page. And she has all kinds of resources within the kit that make it feel like a DIY at home workshop with her because that's what she used to do. Previously she was running workshops. And so this is her way to reach the masses, right? To be able to help people who can't necessarily come to a workshop, still experience that confidence boost at the end of the day. And she's built that into the kit.
So that's just an example. And I'll tell you personally, it worked right. I always kind of wanted to try watercolor, but I was a little nervous about it. I thought, wow, that just feels a little too hard or free form a little overwhelming. I'm not sure what to do with it. And I received this as a gift. I loved it so much that I then went ahead and purchased a set of my own paints, a book, some brushes, and I committed to doing a watercolor painting, no matter how good or bad it was once a week. Which I was actually really great about until I moved unexpectedly in the middle of the year. And so my plans have been sidelined a little bit. But Maya's purpose in helping me discover the confidence to be creative with water colors was realized all because of this kid and the way that she does it, which is all because of her innovative angle. Right?
So that's just an example of how this looks in reality. It doesn't have to be anything earth shattering, but the bottom line is if the audience doesn't know that these are the things that are happening, if they don't know that the business is set up in this way, that they have this innovative angle, then they're never going to know, right. How can you know what you don't know? So we have to share it. And we have to pull that from the client. And I think really validate that it's important that it matters something like, oh, well, you know, she may be able to use as this size of paper because that's just the size of the paper comes in. But us being able to say, yeah, but like, you can be creative anywhere. You can be creative any time you can take this with you. You can throw this in your laptop bag and work on it when you have time. Now, all of a sudden we're turning something that may not be innovative to them into something that's a feature, right? Because it ties in without why and that purpose.
So how do you do this? First I would say, look for throwbacks to that why and purpose are there things that are happening within your client's business or your business? If you're taking a look at that too, that you're doing this thing, because it ultimately leads back to your purpose. You are teaching this thing because it's going to lead to the change you want to see in the world. And you know that your business is a part of that contribution.
So be looking for those connection points, because again, that paints a cohesive, aligned, and strategic brands for the audience. And then same as I've been suggesting, otherwise, interview your client and record that interview and ask them some questions. Even if they've already answered them, say hey, please humor me. I just want to hear how you're seeing it today. I want to hear what's coming up for you and allow that conversation to happen organically. Like if something happens and they get onto a certain topic and they get really fired up about it, don't just say, okay, that's nice and move on, pursue it a little bit. See where it goes. See if it leads back to that. Why and purpose, because if so, that's when you have an innovative angle that actually matters. It's not just innovative to be innovative.
The other part about this is I really, really suggest you interview them verbally, whether that's on the phone or on zoom or anything like that, as opposed to getting them to write down their ideas, because people are very apt to self edit when they're writing. But it's harder to do that when you're talking, because you can't rewind time and unsay what you just said. So even if they say something that they're like, oh, I don't know how to say this. And then they just start rambling, probably there's goals somewhere and the rambling. So be on the lookout for that. Some of the questions that you can ask that we like to ask, where do you see that your industry has some missed opportunities? Right? So for Maya, maybe it's, well, you know, they don't, these kits don't really, give a test page, right? Like that's something, I dunno, I'm just making this up. I'm not sure I haven't shopped around extensively. But you know, if there's no test page, then how does somebody feel confident putting their pen to paper on the final product, if they haven't had a chance to test it first?
Another way you can frame this maybe for your more feisty client, is there something happening in your industry that you disagree with? So example for Maya, she could say, well, yeah, you know, a lot of the, the watercolor kits that you get use some animal based materials in those paints. And so I've chosen to go with all vegan, animal cruelty-free materials so that I can stand firm and my values. And of course my cat, who is part of my branding feels the love. Right.
And I would suggest too that you talked to them about, you know, how are you filling those missed opportunity gaps? How are you zigging when your industry is zagging? Um, not just for the sake of it, but because of what you believe in, tie it back to that purpose, tie it back to that. Why ask them if they could share an example of times when you've kind of gone against the grain and it's paid off, it's felt really good to do that in their business.
This stuff does not have to be earth shattering. And I think that's the biggest myth that I want to bust in this. They don't have to be the only business in the world doing it, but this is your secret weapon here. If you can connect it to the why and the purpose, if you can get connected to their values, all of a sudden the innovation has meaning. And all of a sudden it allows you to connect and care about this company and that's going to happen with the audience too.
So this is a quick one because we're kind of on a series here, but I just want to invite you to, first of all, think about this for your own business. What are you disagreeing with that happens in our industry? What are some missed opportunities that you see in our industry? How are you filling those gaps? What are some times you've gone against the grain and it's paid off for you or felt really good for you?
And then I want you to ask those questions of your client, all your clients, see what comes up for them and capture that stuff, interview them, record it. And if you're looking for some support down the road, I want to also invite you to join our free community, the Polaris writer's lounge is this a slack based community. You can jump over and hang out with us in between looking at your clients slack. And we're going to be talking about all things. Writers. It's a community for writers by writers, Jessi and I, and our team are in there. And we're having conversations with our fellow copywriters about the challenges of the industry, best practices, cool examples of things we've found. We're supporting one another because Jessi and I had been in a lot of communities over the years, but it's kind of rare for us solitary writers to get together. And I think at the end of the day, that's not necessarily helping us. I think we have a lot to learn from each other and I can't wait to learn from you.
So I want to invite you to join the Polaris writer's lounge. Like I said, it's a free community. You can find it at northstarmessaging.com/polaris, P O L A R I S. And I want to invite you inside. So I'm curious to see your thoughts, your innovative angles, and have you incorporate that into your messaging so that you can really show your benefits, the benefits of working with you, to your clients. And I'm interested to hear what your clients say when you pose these questions to them. I know that our clients tend to love it because it gives them a chance to kinda say, Hey, you know, maybe that is pretty cool. All right. Thanks for listening.
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.

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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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