What's Your Story?

Meaning makes all the difference.

Can you really own a word?

There is a view that businesses need to ‘own a word’ if they’re going to build a compelling presence in the lives of their audience. The example most people trot out at this point is Coke. Because apparently Coke owns Happiness.


No-one owns Happiness. For a start there are many different interpretations of happiness. It can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Easy-going, chilled out relaxing with your friends happiness. Pumped up, reaching the top of the rollercoaster and about to churn your tummy happiness. Happiness around the family dinner table, happiness in the arms of a lover.

It’s just not possible to own anything as broad as a single word concept. And it’s pointless to try.

Story is something you can own.

What you can own, and what you should own is your story and your point of view on the world as you share it with your customers.

It’s almost impossible to claim that once-great staple of the marketing world: the Unique Selling Proposition. We’re all too connected to too many businesses and the differences are often becoming hard to quantify at an absolute and meaningful level.

There’s always something a business can claim that none of its competitors can, the question is whether this is valuable enough to customers to really make a difference. And the answer is often no, it’s not.

Your story comes from your point of view. 

But a story is entirely ownable. That’s because it comes from how you choose to look at the world. How you choose to talk about the needs and tensions that exist in the lives of your customers. And the promises you choose to make to them.

The key word there is ‘choose’. Point of view is a decision you take, it’s something you define in ways that feel right to your specific business.

You need to commit to a story that’s more than just a repetition of the category story. You need to establish a specific position and carve out a territory within the category, rather than simply mirror it.

You need to give people something they can believe in. 

If you want to inspire belief in the hearts and minds of your customers, you have to give them something to believe in. If you want to stand for something in their lives, first you have to know what it is you want to stand for.

Standing for a single word concept is simplistic and self-defeating.

Standing for a meaningful story is both distinctive and compelling.