Elevate the story if you want to stand out and attract your natural audience. This is what you do with the interview and focus group responses. Sift through it and look for bold declarative statements. Let’s say each questions has fifteen to twenty answers. Pick the three. One may be simple and elegant, metaphorical even. One may be personal, even emotional. One may be coming at it from a unique perspective. None of them sound like your website or your annual report. Your brand speaks its own language without any regard for business or industry jargon. Do not dilute the truth to fit your comfort zone or your agenda.

Create a brand team of four five people tops. Decide who gets the last word. Bring in outsiders with dominant right brain orientation, like artists and designers. They don’t have to understand your business. It’s better if they don’t. This brand story team highlights the answers, sentences, phrases, concepts and themes that have power. You’re searching for your DNA, your high concept, your higher purpose, your core values, where you draw the line in the sand, your passion, your fears, your belief system, and anything that evokes a strong emotional and physical response.

Share your highlights. Where’s the overlap? Each person should make a case for their choices when there’s disparity. Some highlighted responses are variations of a theme. Find one that represents a higher concept that implies the others. And prioritize. Aim high, leave no wiggle room.

Keep iterating until the document is one or two pages. As you go along keep notes as to what ideas seem like story and what seem like strategy. Decide what seem like vision and what seem like values. Categorize. This is useful for the next steps.

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