I’ve always been fascinated with building brands. When I started my first business, a clothes swapping app, I loved making it real. Creating an identity for it, a look, a feeling, a language, a personality, a heartbeat…
One thing I really struggled with, though, was the story and messaging around my business. I found it so hard to get clear and consistent with it. When I looked for support and structure around building my brand, absolutely nothing helped.
Everything I came across felt long-winded and complicated. I mean, what steps do you take to make people care about your business as much as you do? I’m buzzing right now because I FINALLY feel like I have the answer with 5 Stories. Man, it feels good to say that.
Today, I’m sharing how exactly I came up with the 5 Stories messaging framework I use to help build brands every day – and why it matters.
Consider it your alternative to unrelatable ‘purpose’ ‘mission and ‘vision’ statements.
Our clients love it. I have a feeling you will too.
Building a brand isn’t a priority at the beginning, but it should be
Entrepreneurs don’t start a business to build a brand. They start a business to build a product or service — or both.
With my first business, I remember making updates to my product without validating whether the people I existed for even wanted it. I wanted it to be perfect and when I realised people weren’t downloading it (including my friends), I blamed the product and spent ages trying to improve it with my team. ‘Make the buttons a different colour’, ‘make that button bigger’, ‘add a reminder functionality’ — people will love it more. Except they didn’t.
I wasn’t listening to my customers to find out how they felt and whether my product was something they even wanted in their lives. I failed to achieve product-market-fit with my first business because I was communicating the wrong message to the wrong people.
I’m not alone, either.
34% of startups fail due to lack of product-market fit. Fortunately, this is where the 5 Stories helps.
The point of building a brand is to be something people want in their lives
When I came up with the 5 Stories, I was already familiar with writing purpose, mission and vision statements, as well as positioning statements. But honestly? To me, these just felt flat and lifeless. They only ever lived in a brand book which felt pointless.
I never really got the vibe from leaders and teams I worked with that they believed their purpose, mission and vision statements in their bones. Instead, it always felt like a brand was something founders felt they had to do to increase their valuation and investor appeal. There was a disconnect between the everyday work we do in business and our brand values.
Over the years, I’ve realised that our stories, values and beliefs act as the operating system for a brand’s existence.
Nailing this down creates the energy that will attract the right people to join your journey towards your vision. That’s what makes your product become something people want in their lives.
To build a fully successful brand, you need to tell your full story
The 5 Stories is identity clarity for businesses AND people.
There aren’t one or two stories that can summarise your business. There’s 5. Your Empathy, Purpose, Origin, Product and Vision Stories.
Your Empathy Story: because building a real brand means understanding your customers and empathising with them — all of them. Get down in the trenches with them. Elbow to elbow. Hold a space for their feelings. That’s real empathy.
Your Purpose Story: because why you exist matters and is a must-have for anyone to get behind your brand. Every great story has a hero. Every memorable story is built upon a rallying cry. Your Purpose Story helps you get to know yours.
Your Origin Story: because, often, where you started is your ultimate inspiration for where you’re heading. It’s also the best way for people to get to know you as people. It’s true what they say about people buying people. First impressions matter. Your Origin Story makes it count.
Your Product Story: because when you’re a founder, talking about your product is what you do every day and yet… it’s hard. The story behind your product isn’t black and white, it’s alive and it’s growing as you do. Your Product Story takes your positioning from stiff to real storytelling.
Your Vision Story: because your vision for a better world isn’t nice-to-have, it’s essential — not only for your customers, but for you. It’s that thing that gets you up in the morning. Your driving force when things get tough. Your Vision Story carries you through and becomes a framework for every decision you make.
In 5 Stories, you can understand your brand’s full story — its roots, its progress, its end goal and the golden thread behind it all.
Building a brand never EVER stops — it’s a practice
Building a brand is a choice you have to make every day, multiple times a day. Are you going to show up and be seen? Are you committed to intentionally finding the alignment between your brand and your customers?
Above all, that’s why I created the 5 Stories — for you, for me and for every founder building a brand. Because wanting to build a brand and actually doing so is seriously hard… but maybe it doesn’t have to be. Not with the right tools. Not with the 5 Stories.
Your product has a roadmap, your brand deserves one too.
Thank you for being here. I hope you enjoyed reading this piece.
Here’s a little bit about me…
I’m the co-founder of Make Us Care — a strategic creative partner for businesses doing good in the world. I work closely with founders, leaders and marketing teams to build brands people care about. My magic sauce is a communications framework I created called the 5 Stories.
Get inspiring founder stories and practical brand-building tips sent to your inbox with our free Make People Care newsletter course.
In five emails, you’ll learn what it takes to build a brand people care about.