Now that you have the individual threads of your narrative, it's time to weave them together into something concise, clear and compelling.
I’ve found the best approach is to create a kind of touchstone document that can inform all your other communications. I call it a “stem cell” document because it serves as the basis for lots of other kinds of expression.
You ultimately will want two formats of this document: presentation and prose. The prose format ensures the narrative stands on its own. The presentation format ensures it can be delivered by others.
The prose version has four lengths:
- A word or phrase
- A sentence
- A paragraph
- A page
This way, you ensure that the narrative can scale longer or shorter without losing its essence.
The presentation version usually starts with some kind of observation or insight. Ideally, something that is intuitive but not obvious. This is the best combination to get people nodding their head in agreement, trusting in your credibility, and interested to learn more.
There is no formula for how to write a narrative. You want to combine the various elements that we’ve covered in this Expedition. The most common error I find is not in content, but in tone and context.
Watch out for the tendency to try convince people you are right. The best narratives don’t sell people on anything. They create a connection and flow in which people naturally sell themselves.
Remember that the purpose of the narrative is to establish a foundation for the relationship. If you meet someone new, you don't try to convince them that you would make a good friend. You share things about yourself that give a sense of who you are, what you've done and what's important to you. You trust that if there's the right fit, they will see that themselves.
It's the same thing here. The narrative is saying:
- Who you are as a company.
- Why you do what you do.
- What you are out to achieve in the world.
- How you achieve it.
- Who you are for others.
Naturally, you should write the narrative in a way that is attentive to your audiences. Most importantly, write it in a way that inspires you. Ultimately it is your passion and authenticity that creates the most engaging narrative.
Here's a fillable PDF of each of the elements of a strategic narrative to get you started.
Phrase: Belong anywhere
Sentence: Technology can help bring people together.
"We used to take belonging for granted. Cities used to be villages. Everyone knew each other, and everyone knew they had a place to call home. But after the mechanization and Industrial Revolution of the last century, those feelings of trust and belonging were displaced by mass-produced and impersonal travel experiences. We also stopped trusting each other. And in doing so, we lost something essential about what it means to be a community. At a time when new technologies have made it easier to keep each other at a distance, you're using them to bring people together. And you’re tapping into the universal human yearning to belong—the desire to feel welcomed, respected, and appreciated for who you are, no matter where you might be."
Phrase: Third place
Sentence: Coffee, connection and community inspire the human spirit.
"To say Starbucks purchases and roasts high-quality whole bean coffees is very true. That’s the essence of what we do – but it hardly tells the whole story. Every day, we go to work hoping to do two things: share great coffee with our friends and help make the world a little better. It was true when the first Starbucks opened in 1971, and it’s just as true today. From the beginning, Starbucks set out to be a different kind of company. One that not only celebrated coffee and the rich tradition, but that also brought a feeling of connection. Our mission to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time. We’re a neighborhood gathering place, a part of the daily routine – and we couldn’t be happier about it. Get to know us and you’ll see: we are so much more than what we brew.”
Phrase: Let's beauty together
Sentence: We can all be artists for our own beauty.
"At Sephora, beauty is in our DNA. Sephora believes every stroke, swipe and dab reveals possibility, and we share our client’s love for the confidence that our products, services, and expertise brings to their life every day. In every store, clients unlock their beauty potential at our Beauty, Skincare and Fragrance Studios through intuitive technology and guidance from the most knowledgeable and professional team of product consultants in the beauty industry. [We are] obsessed with teaching and inspiring clients to play in a world of beauty. ... Sephora encourages bold choices in beauty – and in life with the purpose of inspiring fearlessness."
I hope that you have found the expedition helpful. I would appreciate if you would take this short three-question survey to provide some feedback on how we can make things even better.
Also look for announcements of future webinars and clinics to provide live feedback on narratives from Expedition graduates.