One of THE HARDEST parts about writing your own brand story is getting far enough away from your own nose.
It’s hard to see past your own perspective.
Even harder to silence the long-running narrative in your head that might not be 100% accurate.
This weekend, I was remembering back to my high school and college days where I would spend hours dissecting the deeper meaning of a story. I was taught (as you were probably, too) that if you really want to understand a story, you can’t just take it at face value.
You’ve got to look closer.
You’ve got to read it again.
You’ve got to spend a little bit of time reading between the lines.
One of the tools we used again and again was something called a character analysis. If you took a character analysis seriously, then you almost always found yourself a little surprised by the findings.
You might have initially hated a character, only to discover they’re the most dynamic character in the entire story.
Or you might have interpreted the ending one way, only to rethink your entire thought process once you really dug in.
I can also remember all the times we’d pull our desks into circles during class, and almost always, always, always a fellow classmate would show up with the most head-shaking analysis of the story.
“HOW in God’s green earth could they have gotten THAT from this story? Did we even read the SAME story????” I’d think to myself.
But as we dug in, as we talked over ALL the different ways you could approach the story, something crazy happened: my bewilderment morphed into understanding.
They were simply seeing another side of the story that my narrow perspective couldn’t reveal.
This happens with our brand stories, too.
Because WE are the authors of our brand stories, it’s sometimes super hard to move past our own narrow perspectives of who we are and who we want to become.
I think this is why we’ve become so uber reliant on formulas – because if we can just follow a proven way that has worked for other brands, then we don’t have to stress about our own brand stories.
But if you remember your own English classes, it’s likely that the storytellers who stepped OUT of the formula are the ones who intrigued you the most.
For me, Flannery O’Connor had such a different angle than Edgar Allen Poe. Both explored the dark side of the human spirit, but each had their own unique way of doing it. And that’s what made them memorable for me.
But I never would have been able to spot these differences (or at least understand WHY they existed and WHY they worked) without the tool of Character Analysis.
A Character Analysis helped us to acknowledge the obvious, and then it invited us to peel back the layers. And layer by layer, we began to see how small nuances in a character’s actions gave hints to the final ending.
It allowed us to identify the symbolism behind words and objects and understand how they helped to expose a character’s motivations and intentions.
It helped us to tune in to the rhythm of dialogue, the tone of voice, key moments of character development. . . all the things that weren’t always so clear at first glance but held a treasure trove of meaning once you committed to looking for it.
A Character Analysis helped us to see a story for what it was and for what it could be.
It made each story more meaningful, and it empowered us to take the story beyond the cinder block walls of our classroom.
Mostly, it taught us that the surface level impression should never be the final impression. And it showed us that finding the true story takes a little bit of work.
It’s the same way with your brand story, too. And in my work with brands over the last few years, I’ve seen just how hard it is to write your own story. (I’ve experienced it, too. It’s just flat out hard to write about yourself.)
So if you’re a brand leader who is still trying to uncover that “something special,” then I want to invite you to download my Character Analysis tool.
It’s a simple Google Doc that you can download to your own drive, and it encourages you to step into your own story from a little different vantage point.
The Character Analysis tool isn’t going to tell you HOW to write your brand story.
It isn’t going to give you a step-by-step template, either.
It’s simply going to help you uncover the parts of your story that are responsible for creating meaning, the parts that make your story unique and memorable, and the parts that maybe aren’t quite what you thought they were at first glance.
One caveat before you download it: The tool is still a work in progress, so head over and take a look. And if you have any questions, just give me a shout.