There is a reason why superhero origin stories are so loved all over the world. They are fantastic and powerful and intrigue us to want these superpowers. Human beings thrive on emotional intimacy, and origin stories make them emotionally invested. The hero always saves the day.
Brand origin stories are no different. At the same time, every brand has an origin story behind it. It’s the story that tells how a brand is born and what it stands for. But not all of them are effectively crafted and communicated. A brand’s origin story can act as the perfect embodiment of its business ethos.
T’s what humanizes a brand, preventing it from coming across as just another faceless company that has yet to learn what they are about or where they are headed and why. But this requires defining your business in a way that is not only compelling but can also be effectively communicated in your branding and marketing strategies.
Defining your business ethos
Your business ethos is the values and beliefs guiding your brand identity and actions. Getting them to rally behind your brand is more accessible if your customers understand what makes you tick.
Ethos is one of the three parts of the rhetorical triangle, the other two being pathos and logos. Where pathos and logos are about persuading through emotional and logical means, ethos is about establishing trustworthiness and credibility.
Origin stories are one of the best ways to develop your business ethos is to use your origin story.
- Start with your why. What’s the reason behind starting your business? What problem are you solving? What impact do you want to make? Write down your answers and use them as the foundation of your ethos.
- Identify your core values. What are the beliefs and standards that you uphold in your business? Choose a few words or phrases that capture your values and write them down.
- Craft your value proposition. How do you deliver value to your customers? What are the benefits and outcomes that you promise to your customers? Write a clear and concise statement that summarizes your value proposition.
- Communicate your ethos. Use your ethos as the basis of your branding, marketing, and storytelling. Incorporate it into your website, social media, and other channels. Make sure that your ethos is consistent and authentic across all platforms.
We have looked at hundreds of “About Us” pages, and several brands mistakenly treat their origins as a history lesson or simple fact sheet. Their brand stories could have been more effective as there was no narrative in them that communicated their business ethos.
If your brand is one of these, that’s the first thing you’ve got to fix. But we will table that discussion later and in another piece.
Aligning personal ethos with a business ethos
Business ethos and personal ethos may only sometimes align. So, before you define your business ethos, you must find ways to align your unique ethos with your brand’s ethos. Customers these days are savvy. They will see right through the ruse when a company’s business ethos isn’t aligned with the personal ethos of those running it.
If you don’t personally walk your brand’s talk, your business ethos will appear fake, and your entire brand identity will fall apart like a deck of cards.
But some brands have mastered the art of using their origins to develop their business ethos.
Examples of purpose-driven brands with a strong ethos
The best business ethos is the one that ties in the brand’s origin and the values of the founders. Take a look at how some of the world’s most powerful brands build a strong business ethos around their origin stories:
Blueland‘s ethos is all about reducing plastic waste and harmful chemicals for the good of the planet. The brand reimagined conventional cleaning products to be better. Their origin story explains what drives the brand, how their products work, why they are better for the environment, and all their certifications. They also showcase their social impact initiatives, such as donating to environmental organizations and supporting clean water access.
PaYvon Chouinard and his friends were passionate about outdoor adventure and environmental conservation. They started making climbing gear and clothing that were durable, functional, and environmentally friendly. They also committed to donating 1% of their sales to environmental causes. Their ethos of “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, and use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis” has made Patagonia a social and environmental responsibility leader.
Howard Schultz was inspired by the coffee culture and community he experienced in Italy. He wanted to bring that experience to America and create a “third place” between home and work where people could connect over coffee. His ethos of “To inspire and nurture the human spirit—one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time” has made Starbucks a global phenomenon and a socially conscious company.
The entire business ethos of August revolves around menstruation and period care. The founders want to empower people with periods to live life without limits. Their brand stories are about their personal experiences with periods and how they inspired them to create a better solution – comfortable, leak-proof, and reusable underwear.
They also emphasize their social mission, which is to end period-related stigma. Donating products, providing education, and partnering with organizations that support menstrual health are just some of the ways August does this.
This brand sells jewelry that is made from recycled materials and ethically sourced gems. Their mission is to create beautiful jewelry that shouldn’t cost the planet. Ana Luisa‘s origin story talks about how they started as a small team of designers who wanted to challenge the traditional jewelry industry. They share their values, such as transparency, craftsmanship, and responsibility. They also highlight their carbon-neutral certification and their commitment to offsetting their emissions.
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