The Genesis Story: Why It’s a Key Part of an Effective Marketing Strategy

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Never underestimate the power of a good story. Storytelling is a key part of human existence, and people connect with a good narrative in powerful ways that stimulate memory, loyalty, and trust. According to a study by psychologist Jerome Bruner, brands that tell stories are 22 times more memorable than those that don’t.

Today’s media-savvy consumer base resents obvious sales pushes. They want to see stories that feel true to them and that reflect their own experiences. That is why storytelling and narrative are vital for brands today. Nearly 63% of customers support purpose-driven brands that reflect and stake out their own values, according to new research from Accenture.

The cornerstone of a company’s brand narrative and storytelling efforts will all spring from the brand’s genesis story. The story of the creation of the brand, the who, the why, and the what of it, are the threads that weave the brand’s story together. A genesis story tells the consumer not only what the brand is and how it was created, but also about the brand’s values, what kind of company they are, and what kinds of people work there. Think of the brand genesis story as the brand legend.

Create a Simple Framework

Almost every story, whether it is your favorite book series or an award-winning movie, follows the same narrative structure, with a setup, confrontation/problem, and a resolution.

This structure can be as simple as the founder of the company discovering a problem, with the founding of the company as the resolution. In the case of StickerYou, the genesis story starts with me being impressed by the sticker culture I saw on a trip to LA, and subsequently discovering that small-batch, customized stickers were prohibitively expensive. StickerYou was founded in order to solve this problem for consumers.

Make it Value-Driven

While crafting a brand’s genesis story, remember that today’s customers want to support more than just products and services. Customers are looking to support brands that integrate into their lifestyle and share the same personal values they maintain. A genesis story can highlight a company’s values in a way that makes a real impact.

Soul Cycle is an excellent example of this. Soul Cycle sells exercise, but it also sells a lifestyle and mindset as well as building the self-confidence necessary to succeed at one’s goals.

The genesis story, in which co-founders Julie Rice and Elizabeth Coulter were set up on a blind date only to discover that they shared a conviction that New York lacked a social, cardio-based fitness class that didn’t feel like a chore and decided to open one themselves, underscores the do-it-yourself confidence, serendipity, work ethic, and sense of community that makes up the core of Soul Cycle’s unique brand. The genesis story of SoulCycle is very much rooted in fate. This reflects SoulCycle customer values of community, motivation, and the mind-body-spirit connection, all within a sweaty, 45-minute cardio workout.

Make it Memorable

It’s one thing to say that Burt’s Bees provides natural personal care products, and another to paint a picture of a local beekeeper, Burt Shavitz, and artist, Roxanne Quimy, meeting by chance on a highway when Burt picked up Roxanne while she was hitchhiking. The imagery of their meeting and the early days of Burt’s Bees that saw the two of them selling natural beeswax candles and honey at roadside stands are powerful ones. Which one are you more likely to remember—the statement or the story?

Genesis stories can have a powerful impact on brand information retention in the consumer’s mind.

When done correctly, an effective brand genesis story acts as more than just a building block for future marketing and advertising initiatives. Successful brand genesis stories have the power to make real connections with their customers, help companies stay true to their core values, and maintain an authentic brand.

Andrew Witkin is founder and president of StickerYou. As the founder of a global e-commerce leader in custom-printed, die-cut products, Andrew Witkin is widely recognized as a leading authority on e-commerce, customization, startups, marketing and the tech economy. Witkin has also served as VP North American Licensing for Nelvana/Corus Entertainment and Director of Marketing for MegaBrands/Mattel.