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Superbowl Sunday just wrapped up. Amidst the feelings about the game itself and the MANY opinions about the half-time show {Mine? Rock it, ladies.}, there’s a familiar debate taking place online. It’s the Great Commercial Debate. Which Superbowl commercial was the best? Which was funniest? Most heartfelt? Weirdest?

The commercials shown during Superbowl Sunday are a perfect example of storytelling in action. Big brands like Budweiser and Amazon know that it’s not enough to have a product {or service}. You have to tell stories that connect with your audience.

The stories you tell in your business contribute to your Brand Voice. Often, when we talk to people about the “voice” of their business, they immediately jump to the words, the phrases, and the tone of the content.

And all of that is important.

But so are the stories. 

Here’s a quick recap of what your Brand Voice consists of:

The “story” section is often forgotten or glossed over, and yet it’s potentially THE most important part of your Brand Voice. It’s what allows your audience to raise their hand and say, “I totally relate to that!” or to see you as the go-to expert in your field. Without stories to bring it all together, your Brand Voice is just a bunch of random words.

In a previous post, we detailed the five core story types that contribute to YOUR brand’s voice. Today, we’re going to dive into the most common one: The Origin Story.

What is the Origin Story?

The origin story is exactly what it sounds like. It tells the journey of your company {or, often, your own story, if you’re a personal brand}. It talks about where you started and your arc of growth. You can dig into who you’ve helped, how you’ve evolved, and the ways in which your vision has changed.

Typically, your origin story will follow a fun little plot arc. It starts off with quiet, humble beginnings — or possibly even in the depths of struggle. A dream is born and from that dream a business is created. As the company grows, it’s met with periodic struggles, challenges, and missteps. But at the end of the day, usually through a combination of bold moves, persistence, and belief, you prevail.

It is, in short, the hero’s journey {A story arc that’s existed for thousands upon thousands of years.} It most often appears on company “about” pages and profiles and is a SUPER common topic when being interviewed.

Your Origin Story Will Show Your Audience:

  • The ways in which you are {or were} similar to them
  • How far you’ve come and how you’ve evolved {with plenty of mistakes along the way, because hey, you’re only human — even if you’re a brand}
  • The support you received along the way {whether it’s a person, a program, or even a mindset shift}
  • Who you serve and in what ways {and how it’s changed over time}

 This is your chance to show your audience a journey they themselves can embark on. Your story is a touchstone for them, and it positions you as someone they can trust as a mentor along the way.

Origin Stories in Action

Let’s take a look at some examples! Below you can see two very different origin stories representing two different kinds of businesses — a product-based company and a service-based personal brand. These examples are just the tip of the iceberg! See how many other origin stories you can find in action.

Product-Based Company Example: The North Face

The North Face doesn’t just talk about their humble and unlikely beginnings on a beach in San Francisco. They reinforce their vision, both as it originally was and how it’s evolved over time. The characteristics they want to be known for — innovation, exploration, and product quality — are front and center throughout the story.

There’s something else The North Face does here. They don’t just tell their story — but they also use their story as an opportunity to showcase their values. Within the context of their journey, they share their commitment to their audience, to their product, and to the outdoor sports arena. 

Service-Based Company Example: Marie Forleo

I know, I know. Everyone uses Marie Forleo as an example. That’s because it’s a good example. Marie knows her voice, inside and out — so deeply that it doesn’t matter whether she wrote her own About Page or not. The soul of her brand is still represented on the page. 

The goal of Marie Forleo’s About Page is to immediately create connection. She positions herself as the “girl next door” from Jersey who set out with next to nothing and built an empire.

Her story is inspirational and aspirational. The people who choose to work with her often come from similar beginnings and have their own big dreams. By letting her audience see her journey, they’re able to map out their own path in their head. They also learn to trust Marie. She’s been there, she has your back, and even though she’s rich and successful, she’s still just as down-to-earth as ever.

Do you want to create the same About Page as Marie Forleo?


Your story isn’t Marie’s story. Your journey is different, your Brand Voice is different, you are different.

Instead, tell your own story, leveraging your own voice, in a way that connects with your audience.

When to Use Your Origin Story

Your origin story doesn’t have to stay on your About Page. It’s likely to show up there, but it can also weave its way into your other content. For example, here at North Star we frequently talk about how our CEOs {that’s me and Marie!} got our start writing and editing resumes and cover letters during the recession in 2010.

You won’t find that tidbit on our About Page, but if you find us on social media or in a podcast interview, there’s a good chance we’ll mention it. Why? Because it’s an important piece of our full origin story. The skills we honed while finessing cover letters were the same ones we use today — nailing our clients’ unique message and brand voice.

The purpose of your origin story is to show your clients the vision you have, how you’ve evolved, and what sets you apart as the best possible partner on their journey.

And don’t forget — your origin story should be written in your unique voice! Stories are an amazing opportunity to really dig in and double down on the way you communicate with your audience. If you’re not sure where to start, check out our Copywriting Character Quiz. It will help you begin to develop your Brand Voice.

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