Do You Use Your Origin Story in Your Marketing?


Does your company have an origin story? First things first, let’s define origin story.

Comic book fans will know an origin story is the background information we need to understand how a hero or villain came to be. It is used in other forms of media to explain the back-story to a particular character or situation.

In business, an origin story refers to how a company came to be. Who was the dreamer? What was the process? The idea? The accident? How did that company become that company?

As consumers, we know the origin story for more companies than we might think. We might know that Google started as a research project by two Stanford PhD students. We might know that Fedex began as a Yale student’s economics paper for an overnight delivery service. We might know that Under Armour began when a former University of Maryland football player created his own sweat-resistant synthetic fabric. We might know that Apple started in Steve Jobs’ garage.

A good origin story becomes a part of the larger brand. It gives fans and customers a sense of who the company is, and why it exists.

Does your company use an origin story as part of your marketing?

While not every company will have a cool or noteworthy origin story, the idea of an origin story is still one that should be considered. It can focus on the…

  • WHO. Who is your founder? Why is she/he important? How will consumers connect with their story?
  • WHY. What was the problem you aimed to solve? How was it that this need impacted the lives of the founders?
  • HOW. Under what conditions was the company forged? What obstacles were overcome to bring this product or service to market?

Origin stories will take on a life of their own. Chances are there are myths out there about companies that are not entirely true. But the point here is that the truth does not always matter when it comes to building a brand.

People associate with a brand that tells a story – and one that they can connect with. So what is your story? How did it start?

Understand Why You’re Changing Your Website

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Changing your website is a good thing. Generally speaking, you will be rewarded for making regular updates/improvements to your company’s website. Google likes a site where content is regularly updated, and will favor you for it.

That said, there needs to be a reason for your changes. Changing your website for the sake of changing it – because you’re tired of the way it looks or you have nothing better to do – is not a smart strategy.

Getting to the Why

The “why” will help you determine the “how”. The “why” is/are the underlying goal(s) you set for your redesign.

For example, you may be updating your website in order to convert more visitors into customers. Your “why” is conversion rate optimization.

Some other why’s include…

  • Modernizing the brand
  • Improving website navigation
  • Improving SEO
  • Adding products/services
  • Rebranding
  • Appealing to a new target audience

Once you understand why you are changing your website, you can more easily communicate with the team making the changes. The designers and the developers will be able to see the larger picture, grasping the end goal before they start to work.

Without the “why”, you don’t have a strategy.

Top Branding Blog Posts

Developing a brand is an important part of reaching an audience. Your brand is how they know who you are. It defines you in the consumers’ eyes.

And that’s why we devote a good deal of time to branding on the blog. We went back and found the eight most-read posts on branding over the last few years. Here they are:

  1. What Your Price Says About Your Brand
  2. Can You Measure Brand Marketing?
  3. The End of Brand Loyalty
  4. Unique Value Proposition – a Refresher
  5. Marketing Funnel – Awareness
  6. What Promise Are You Keeping?
  7. Leveraging a Name to Help Branding
  8. Twitter and the Art of Brand Building

Unique Value Proposition – a Refresher

A Unique Value Proposition (UVP), sometimes referred to as a unique selling proposition (USP), is a clear statement that describes the benefit of your offer, how you solve your customer’s needs and what distinguishes you from the competition.

Let’s break that down piece by piece, because many marketers and brands get this critical messaging component wrong.

Clear Statement

Firstly, we establish that the statement must be clear. This is because it is a statement you should use to attract customers. It must be written and expressed in a way that is immediately understandable. No confusing business jargon. This is not a mission statement.

Benefit of Your Offer

Second, the unique value proposition speaks directly to the benefit(s) of your product or service. Benefits are not features. The benefit answers the why question – as in, “why should I, the consumer, care?”

How You Solve your Customers’ Needs

If the benefit tells your customers what you do, this is where you address more specifically how you do it. (Example: We make insurance cheaper by doing everything online. In that example, ‘making insurance cheaper’ is the what, and ‘by doing everything online’ is the how.)

What Distinguishes You from the Competition

This last part is where the “Unique” comes in. This answers the question, “why should I choose you over your competitors?” Are you cheaper, quicker, friendlier, simpler? What makes your offer unique?

Unique value propositions are important because they force you to distill your marketing message down into its simpler form. It’s a clear definition of what you offer and why people should purchase from you.

For more help creating your unique value proposition, there are resources here and here.

And make sure you check out these great examples of brands with perfectly simple unique value propositions.

What Your Price Says About Your Brand

When you think of some of the most popular/trusted/like consumer brands in the US today, you might think of Budweiser, Coke, Amazon, Apple, Walmart, etc.

Some brands are closely linked to price, rather intentionally. To illustrate two of the extremes, let’s use Walmart on the low end and Apple on the high end.

People who know Walmart know they stand for everyday low prices. Their brand is identified with low prices. And for them, that’s a good thing, because it is a part of what makes them so successful. Customers shop at Walmart because they can afford to (in addition to it being convenient).

At the other end of the spectrum we have Apple, who has always taken special care of their brand’s reputation. They offer high-quality, good looking, intuitive technology products. And because of their brand, and the loyalty of most customers, they can command a higher price.

Unlike Walmart, Apple will never specifically tout their higher prices as a part of the marketing. But consumers know that the higher prices they charge are worth it because the brand is so powerful.

Price and brand will always be linked in the minds of consumers. Which makes it hard for companies to change prices or offer new product lines outside of their traditional markets.

It would be difficult for Walmart to suddenly try a higher-price, higher-value strategy. Likewise it wouldn’t make sense for Apple to start slashing prices and try to compete with Dell in the computer market.

Savvy marketers must learn how the pricing strategy they employ sets the stage for how consumers view their brand.