I've been working my way through the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies over the last month or so. The origin stories drew me in and got me involved into the characters, their flaws, their strong points, and their quirks. Because of that, I feel invested enough to want to go along for the ride to see how their stories unfold, even though I already know how it ends.
And you can do the same with your business.
Every brand has an origin story. The story may be filled with a series of ups and downs, twists, and turns, which works well. The best stories don't happen linearly with a bunch of wins that just stack upon each other. They are filled with lows, complications, and triumphs. They can include points that seem to push you so far to the edge that you are about to lose hope.
As a business leader, you've got to find a way to tell your brand's origin story. But not in a way that feels self-indulgent.
The objective is to draw your ideal customer closer to you, and to keep them connected. You do that by highlighting a transformation. When you do, you show your customers what is possible, and help them see a better version of themselves. The best stories don't just inform and entertain, they leave your customers better off, ready to take on the world.
Here are three lessons you can take from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, to tell a compelling origin story for your brand.
1. Put a spotlight on your initial problem.
Tell a story that introduces the events surrounding what caused you to start your business. Share the details behind the initial idea that put you on the path you're on today.
For Richard Branson, the initial spark for Virgin Airlines was born years ago when he was in Puerto Rico, and a flight he was supposed to take to the British Virgin Islands (BVI) was canceled due to not enough passengers.
I had a beautiful lady waiting for me in BVI and I hired a plane and borrowed a blackboard and as a joke I wrote Virgin Airlines on the top of the blackboard, $39 one way to BVI. I went out round all the passengers who had been bumped and I filled up my first plane.
Soon after that, Branson bought a second-hand plane from Boeing, and Virgin Atlantic was officially born.
2. Highlight twists in the journey.
As you work to craft your origin story, be sure to highlight low points in the journey. What were the events and circumstances that made your situation dire, or made you question whether achieving the mission you set out to conquer was even a possibility?
When Alex Bloomberg, launched his podcast production company, Gimlet Media, back in 2014, he did it with a podcast.
For the entire first season of their show Startup, Bloomberg chronicled the ups, downs, and complications associated with getting the company off the ground. The season even documented several cringe-worthy moments as Bloomberg pitched investors early on, that did not go well.
These less-than-perfect moments humanized Bloomberg and made millions of listeners root for him even more. We've all been able to relate to working hard for something and struggling to get it to come off as smoothly as planned.
3. Showcase the triumph.
Bad times for a superhero can't last forever. The hero has to emerge triumphant.
Sarah Blakely is a self-made billionaire and founder of Spanx. But when she first got started, she struggled to get a manufacturer to make her prototype and found difficulty getting a law firm to write her patent for her.
Eventually, one of the manufacturers she cold-called changed their mind and decided to work with her. And Blakely ended up writing her own patent. Her perseverance paid off, resulting in the multi-billion-dollar company we know today.
Highlight elements of your story that will inspire your customers to show them that they should follow along with you if they would like to achieve similar results.
You can tell the origin story for your business, in a way that draws your ideal customers closer to you. Start incorporating elements of your story into the original content you produce. The more you start to tell it, you'll quickly see which parts of the story your audience gravitates to the most.