US Navy SEAL Commander Randy Hetrick had trained for many things. Sitting in an abandoned warehouse in South East Asia waiting for the “GO” order from Washington wasn’t one of them. To escape the boredom, he started tinkering with different ways to work out his “pull” muscles (SEAL Teams need to be able to climb the sides of ships without being noticed). He grabbed a jujitsu belt, some nylon webbing and a few boat repair tools he had lying around. Before long, he’d invented an entirely new form of exercise. TRX Suspension Training was born.
Brand Storytelling Works
As the Content Director for TRX, I’ve told this story many times. The press has loved it, professional athletes and trainers connect with it, and even the Pentagon has found it compelling; buying tens of thousands of the product at a time. Today, it has grown into a $45 million dollar a year enterprise, largely on the strength of that story.
Not everyone has a compelling founder story like TRX, Apple or Google. But every brand can develop a story. Here’s the abbreviated “how-to:”
1. Understand Your Audience.
TRX’s audience is pro athletes, trainers, coaches and military commanders. The Navy SEAL story gives us instant credibility with them. Ask yourself, how does your audience think? What do they believe in? What do they care about? What kinds of stories do they like? Are they an integral part of your story?
2. Craft Your Brand Story.
What’s your story? Did it emerge from a choice point? A founder story? How does it unfold? Who are the characters? What’s the plot? Is there a backstory? A moral? What are the events in the story? Where and when does it take place? What are the cause and effect relationships? These are the classic elements of story and they do apply to your public narrative.
3. Determine Your Brand Voice.
4. Get Into Character.
Take a deep breath and become the brand. Concentrate on its mindset, situation, mannerisms, voice and personality. If executed well, this will result in a believable portrayal that captivates and entertains us every time.
5. Don’t Just Tell It, Act It Out.
Yes, you should tell the story everywhere it makes sense. But the story should also drive how your brand behaves. Your charitable giving efforts, your promotions, internal branding efforts, employee programs, social media strategies, PR stories… think of the brand as an actor in its own story.
If you fail to tell your brand story, you risk coming off as just a provider of a product or service. A resource. Nothing more. To grab the audience and stick in their brain, you need to tell a compelling, cohesive and relatable story. What’s your story?