Why every startup needs to tell its story

No one starts a business to focus on a tech branding strategy. Leaders begin their entrepreneurial journey by:

• seeking out problems
• conceiving innovative solutions
• envisioning a better world
• feeding the spark of curiosity

All are elements of a solid startup story resulting in your product or service.

But, it turns out you’ll be telling your story a lot: at conferences, meetings, elevator pitches, coffee shop brainstorming, or even the neighborhood barbeque. And remember, each conversation is about the person in front of you, distinguishing your solution & brand, and improving your shot at getting to “yes.”

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TIP: When you share how your innovative work changes lives, remember it’s never about you.

Microsoft’s early story was more than just a few guys in a garage: it was the promise of the American dream. The dream that anyone, from anywhere, can succeed by appealing to human needs. They recognized what their audience wanted was a PC in their home they could use and understand.

Their brand strategy evolved to update their story, changing its original mission statement from ‘a computer on every desk and in every home’ to the current version ‘to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more’.

Ultimately, your startup story defines your business by combining your passion with what drove you to find a new solution to a known problem.

Define Your Origin

Your B2B tech branding strategy should always start with remembering this: marketing is naturally a storytelling activity to build brands. People connect with companies & brands when you tell a human story, describing how you began and where you’re headed.

Every superhero comic, graphic novel or movie plot starts with the main character’s origin story, whether it’s Superman landing in Kansas or the tragic family loss for Spider-Man or Batman. Those story elements define who they are and where they come from.

Alternatively, consider famous tech brands whose origins have become legendary tales of starting in basements or garages, with two friends getting a beer and coding after their day jobs. Those underdog stories call to mind struggles of late nights and no money, which most of us can empathize with, making us cheer for these companies all the more:

tech companies that started in garages
Companies that say their origin began in a garage

Your tech brand’s birth — and the feeling it could be us too — is the first part of applying a tech branding strategy to your startup story and serves as the hook to getting your audience engaged.

Up to 90% of startups fail, most because they scale too early without a plan. Our story begins by recognizing that failure rate as a problem . . .

. . . our solution is to develop your long-term positioning and growth strategy. We shift your thinking, and ultimately, shift your growth.

Structure Your Startup Story in Three Acts

Next, take your audience alongside you when telling your startup story. To engage and excite your audience, use a structure explicitly designed to draw people in and feel both unique, yet familiar.

Let’s take a page from your favorite movies to build three acts — or arcs — for your startup story:

  1. Life before you noticed the problem
  2. Discovering the problem and its impact on your life
  3. Solving the problem with your revolutionary product or service

If you’ve tried your hand at successful sales letters, landing pages, and long-form sales copy, then you’re familiar with these three elements. Your brand’s story should follow them too.

1. Life before you noticed the problem

Because you’re telling your startup story from the future, you know the problem behind it and how you solved it. Tell us the moment you realized things weren’t right and you weren’t sure why. You might’ve been successful in a career but felt unfulfilled, or you were frustrated with life in general and didn’t know why.

How does the problem make your audience feel? Frame your disappointment, frustration, etc. in the same way. Even without naming the problem immediately, you’re tapping into how your audience feels and priming them for your solution.

2. Discovering the problem and its impact on your life

You’re not solving the problem here. Instead, you’re demonstrating you had to discover the problem and are now addressing it to fulfill your vision.

Tell us about the moment you discovered the problem and knew something had to be done . . .

. . . this is the first ah ha! or eureka! moment where you introduce the underlying truth about your company.

This is the true origin moment in your startup story.

3. Solving the problem with your revolutionary product or service

Describe how you solve the problem and what makes your solution unique. Show us the big picture and hit us with solid numbers. Touch on your innovation and the biggest thing it accomplishes. Your discovery likely made it easier for you to sleep at night, and you can frame it in a way that’ll help the audience feel better too.

Tech branding can be overly geeky, so remember: it's not about the tech, but about the problem it solves.

End Your Startup Story with a Call to Action

Finally, your audience wants to share your vision and believe in you, whether that’s through funding and capital or by becoming customers (or even team members).

Help them join you by giving them a smooth next step. Lead them, and guide them by making it easy to work with you. Think about the engagement opportunities you provide in your emails, on your website and in your conversations. Do they ask questions like:

• Want to be able to do this yourself?
• If that sounds familiar, ready to change it?
• Ready to have this innovation work for you?

These questions give your audience something to say YES to, and when you’ve got them saying yes to the premise of your startup story, they are saying yes to your business.

Start Now

If you haven’t told your story yet, don’t let this momentum escape you. Take time to brainstorm these elements and sketch some guiding thoughts to help you be ready when someone asks you the most important question in business:  What’s your story?

Get Your Competitive Positioning Audit

Differentiate your B2B tech startup
(before your competition does it for you):