Don't let your brand story become a bland story

Let’s play a game of ‘guess who?’. Here are three brand stories from three startup type companies. I’ve anonymised the giveaway bits, so you tell me: who’s talking?


We started with a problem. The [X] industry is broken – it’s built on layers of middlemen and outdated systems. So we turned a simple idea to a full-blown mission: to offer [X product] the way it should be.


We believe there is a better way to [do X task]. We want to make it simple, effortless and fast – around the clock. It’s [X product] to the people, no matter what you choose.


For generations, the way people deal with [issue] has been the same. It’s cold, complex and incredibly stressful. We created [product] to change all that.

Don’t worry, I’ll reveal who’s who* – I know you must be on the edge of your seat. But do you notice the overlap? It seems like a lot of ‘challenger’ companies are using similar themes in their stories. There are problems to solve, industries to overhaul and rules of three to write.

Now, this is all better and friendlier than a corporate-speak ‘about’ paragraph with phrases like maximising value for stakeholders and delivering healthy returns. But it’s surprising. If your whole purpose is to stand out from big corporate industries, why risk this other type of blending in?

Brand stories, the Von Restorff way

The Von Restorff effect is also called the Isolation Effect. It says that if you’re looking at a barrel of mostly green apples, you’ll be more likely to remember the red one. And it’s just as true with brands: distinctiveness is the big thing to aim for, according to Byron Sharp and co.

So if you’re looking for a little inspo on your story, read one of the classics from innocent. It’s honest: they just made some smoothies and asked people to vote. It’s specific: the bins, the festival. And it’s true to their tone of voice: ‘we got cracking’.

There are no grand democratic statements, no finger-pointing at the big juice industries, and very little in the way of mission-type material. It’s just a down-to-earth account of how they started.

So be real

If you started in your mum’s garage, say you started in your mum’s garage. If you began your company so you could escape the tyranny of corporate life and a two-hour commute, say so.

Small, gritty details appeal more to readers than sweeping statements about industry shake-ups (the scientists call this one concreteness). And anyway, we’ve all read that story before.

*The first is Cuvva, an insurance company.

The second is Treatwell, who let people book beauty treatments online.

The third is Farewill, who do wills and probate.

Same same but (slightly) different, from nail art to the afterlife. Wasn’t that fun?

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