Use One Of These Three Story Narratives To Create A Better Brand

There is something that always confused me when it came to brand story.

It is the idea of … well… “Story”.

When we think of stories we think of books, movies, and TV shows. There’s usually a beginning, an arc, and an end. Plus a plot that runs through it all. Plus… there’s a beginning and an end!

But business doesn’t usually work that way. At least we hope not!

In business: we really don’t know where we are in the actually story arc. Usually we’re somewhere in the middle, but TBH, it feels like we’re being thrown all over the place.

But one of the neat ways you can start to think about it is by thinking about where your clients are in relation to the story. As I’ve talked about in the rest of this series on how to tell your brand story, you are just a character. Or maybe even a narrator.

I’ve really enjoyed breaking down this would look in terms of the 3 story models I have been talking about in the past few posts.

I’d love to hear what you think – please send me a message to tell me where you fit in!

The Book Series Brand

In the early years of my relationship with my husband (then boyfriend) we had a 2 standing dates every December > one to watch Harry Potter. And the other to watch Lord of the Rings.

We would call in sick to work for one of them, and made it a big day of it – with a fancy breakfast, dinner out afterwards, sleeping in… THE WORKS!

We were young, broke, working full-time, and building up our businesses at the time so the day off and eating out was a big deal! So was spending the WHOLE day together!

What does that have to do with marketing and branding?

>> You know how Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Narnia, and Hunger Games, have a different story in each book. BUT… a theme and characters that go through all of them?!

Well… there are some great brands set up like that too. And by knowing if your brand follows this story model it can help you figure out what products or offers to create, and how to market them.

This is how that would look for coaches, freelancers, and creators.

>> The Theme Of The Book Series: This is the overall mission or goal that your clients want to achieve.

  • Each book in the series: Each of your offers or products is book
  • The Plot For Each Book In The Series: This what happened that lead you to create each product. For example. I was doing X and it was awful because of Y therefore I did Z. It can also be looked at as the experiences that inspired the product or offer. Each product would build on the previous.
  • The Story Arc For Each Book In The Series: Each product or offer takes helps people get to Z faster. And even skip X and Y. It solves one problem in their bigger problem. But their BIGGER problem isn’t achieved until they have mastered everything you teach.
  • Characters: You would be serving the same clients over and over, just at different stages in their growth. And each product or offer may bring in new clients that didn’t need to start at the beginning with you.

This is how that would look.

Here are some examples of “Series Brands”

— a coach with a variety of product levels, that serve the same people at different stages of their growth. I.e. a coach that sells both digital products and also has a high-touch mastermind.

— a VA that helps people with a lot of different things (but for people in the same industry and with the same goals).

— I don’t think this is a good story model for Digital Creators though. I’m open to hearing other perspectives. BUT, I think the outcomes provided by digital creators isn’t big enough to justify a series.

Some examples you may have heard of include:

  • Funnel Gorgeous
  • Click Funnels
  • Digital Marketer

Composite Novel Brand (aka. Book of Short Stories)

My husband composes music for film and TV, so I have been to my share of film festivals over the years. Some of the most popular and well-received are the “Horror movie film festivals”.

The reason I’m bringing that up is because it’s actually a great way to describe the idea of a Composite Novel – which is essentially a compilation of short stories.

It can include stories from the same author or several authors. And whichever it is, there’s usually a theme that runs through all of them (i.e. horror, mystery, comedy). BUT, each one has its own storyline, arc, plot, and even characters.

And if you’re wondering about the difference between a composite novel and series it’s the idea that the characters, problems, and desires might change… But the overall theme would remain the same.

Here is how that looks:

This is how that would work for coaches, freelancers, and digital creators.

  • Short Story Novel Theme: This is the overall mission or vision of your business
  • Chapters: Each of your offers or products is a Chapter
  • Plot: The things you experience (the pain, the frustration, the hope, and the realization) is the plot. It’s usually centred around 1 moment, usually a moment of pain and a lesson that needs to be learned.
  • Story Arc: These are the big 3 (or 4) turning points in the creation of your offer or product.
  • Characters: Those who purchase your products would be different, but share the same goal.

This is how that might look in the real world:

— A coach that coaches in multiple areas (i.e. confidence, business) might be a good fit for the Composite Novel. But, if there was a Business Coaching version of Betterhelp, that would probably be a better example.

— Template Sellers on Etsy or Creative Market (that don’t have a 1-1 upsell).

— An agency that has different divisions (i.e. Ads, Organic marketing) would be a composite novel brand.

Here are some examples you may have heard of:

  • BetterHelp for therapists
  • LadyBossStudio, before she had courses fit well into the Composite novel.

The Novel Brand

My favourite book as a child was called “The Root Cellar”. I had a copy of it for the longest time, but passed it on to my nieces a few years ago when they were of age for it.

It was a part ghost story, part period drama, and part love story.

It was beautiful. And it was the book that made me fall in love with reading!

But when it ended, I was so sad.

I wanted to know what happened next and to continue on my journey with the characters. Instead, I was left with a magical memory of the magical adventure in the root cellar.

Is your brand a novel like The Root Cellar? Do you solve one problem, and solve it one specific type of way?

If so, your brand story is probably based on a Novel Brand.

Here’s how that would look in practical terms.

  • The Theme Of The Book: This is the overall mission or vision of your business
  • The Chapters: You probably have one product or service, and that takes people on a long and magical journey with you.
  • The Plot For The Story: This is what inspire you to create your product or service. Your product or service helps solves one product.
  • The Story Arc For The Series Of Books: Even though your product or services help people solve ONE problem. Each product or service helps people achieve a certain problem, their BIGGER problem isn’t achieved until they have mastered everything you teach.
  • Characters: You would be serving the same customers — with the same problems and desires — on one very specific things.

Here is how that looks:

Here are some real-world examples:

— coach that offers one on one services for something very particular (i.e. positivity, organization, careers)

— a freelancer that designs websites or writes copy (or something similar)

— a digital creator who has one big product that serves a specific need or topic in great detail (i.e. a big course on how to design a website) you’re probably a novel brand.

Some examples you may have heard of:

  • Lacey Sites (Lit Up and Loaded)
  • Machine Learning with Python: A Practical Introduction
  • Brian Clark of CopyBlogger

Now what?

This concept is a theory that I’m cooking up so the best thing for you to do right now is to consider where you fit or want to fit.

The interesting thing about this framework is that each method can be incredibly successful. And once you decide where you fit, it will help you decide on everything from the types of products you create, your pricing, and in some cases even your niche.

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About the author

Susanna has been helping small brands and businesses get more value out of the web since 2008. She has worked in the areas of content creation (blog, social media), copywriting (funnels, websites, email), design (social media, website, digital), and conversion optimization (FB ads, Google ads, Youtube Ads, SEO).

Her motto is to Out-think, Out-create, and Out-convert. NOT, Out-spend!