A clear, compelling story articulates why you matter—and why people should care. When those beliefs are shared across an organization in the form of a brand story, it becomes a platform to power sales, marketing, customer experience, culture, and more. The right story transforms companies from transactional vendors into a community anchored in beliefs that employees, customers, and investors value.
People’s brains are hard-wired to interpret information using stories: they are simple to understand, and easy to repeat. From the oral tradition to contemporary Marvel and Star Wars films, there is one storytelling structure that has underpinned the most effective narratives: the Hero’s Journey.
Woden leverages this narrative arc to craft clear, compelling brand stories that audiences can’t help but share. By positioning customers as the story’s hero, and brands as the capable, trusted mentors guiding them toward their goals, Woden’s clients establish an emotional bond with audiences that delivers measurable results.
Woden guides organizations through a proprietary, 11-week process designed to clarify their purpose, craft the compelling strategic story that communicates it, and establish the framework that transforms them into a story-driven brand. Woden is the global leader in brand storytelling, and has honed this approach over hundreds of engagements in dozens of countries.
Woden begins each engagement by listening carefully. Interviews and surveys with team members and customers, market research, and competitive analysis are distilled into a succinct narrative: the StoryKernel. This strategic story is the framework and foundation for how organizations position themselves and articulate their purpose. The StoryKernel hews to the Hero’s Journey narrative arc to ensure your message is clear, compelling, and memorable.
Once the StoryKernel is defined, Woden facilitates a working session with your leadership team. The StorySeminar ensures all stakeholders are aligned with the StoryKernel, and collaboratively defines core values, brand personality, mission statements, and positioning. Teams leave the StorySeminar ready to transform their organization into a purpose-driven brand.
To ensure your organization’s story-driven transformation, Woden crafts their unique StoryGuide: a comprehensive blueprint for aligning strategy, culture, customer experience, and growth efforts with your StoryKernel. The StoryGuide provides analysis, strategy, personas, customer journeys, and more—everything you need to ensure your story comes alive in all you do.
Each StoryGuide is accompanied by a Woden-supported implementation plan: StoryAccelerator. This platform ensures your team has the resources they need to execute the potential of the StoryKernel: editing help, additional deliverables, monthly accountability, and a platform of additional partners who are there to create true story-driven ROI.
Woden has written the book—literally—on how story transforms organizations. Download Story is the Strategy today to begin your brand’s purpose-driven journey.
Story is the Strategy collects the insights Woden has accumulated through nearly 300 client engagements into a single guide that shares how to craft a clear, compelling brand story, and illustrates the best ways to weave it into the fabric of an organization. From fueling growth to aligning teams, and from exciting customers to defining strategy, the right strategic story positions companies to thrive.
How do you build trust in an industry where customers expect companies to take advantage of them? TigerWit built the world’s first foreign exchange trading platform on the blockchain—allowing traders to verify their own trades. Despite the platform’s technological transparency, customers remained skeptical.
TigerWit asked Woden to help them craft a story that built trust with their customers. Woden worked to understand the psychology of the fX trader, and helped TigerWit land on a story that asked traders to only trust one thing: themselves. The StoryKernel helped TigerWit move away from emphasizing the features of blockchain trading, and instead highlight what it enabled: trading that relies on only one person, the trader executing on their own intuition and intelligence.
“The StorySeminar and discussions were really worthwhile and have moved us a long way forward. We’re ready to bring this into our brand voice, and use the narrative arc to keep us focused on our hero.”
Spiro is on a mission to kill CRM. After seeing hundreds of companies with failed Salesforce deployments revert back to using spreadsheets to manage their sales teams, Spiro knew there had to be a better way. Their growth initiatives kept running into the same obstacle: how do you sell CRM to an audience that hates CRM?
Woden helped Spiro transform itself into an entirely new product category: proactive relationship management. Most sales people feel like they work for their CRM, not the other way around. Through the StoryKernel, Woden helped Spiro stop competing against enterprise CRMs on features, and instead positioned the platform as the partner salespeople in the trenches need to automate the hard work of sales—leading to years of double-digit growth.
“CRM is a $30 billion market. Half of companies have no CRM. We want to own that market. And ‘proactive relationship management’ is how we’re going to do it.”
Bush Hog was a victim of its own success. The company invented the large rotary cutters used in agriculture and roadside cutting, but decades of copycat products left the brand suffering from genericide: “bush hog” had become synonymous with inferior products. Dealers allowed customers to purchase discount alternatives, while believing they were getting the implement they needed.
Woden set out to define what makes a Bush Hog completely unique. The company’s StoryKernel positioned its customers as those who see the opportunity in their land—land that can only be shaped with a Bush Hog their capable hands. Among the results were the company’s new tagline: If It Doesn’t Say Bush Hog, It Just Won’t Cut It. Bush Hog’s StoryGuide laid out a strategy for re-engaging the dealer network and arming them with the messaging they needed to become advocates for the brand—resulting a sales funnel stronger than ever before.
“The StorySeminar is easily the best of that type of session I’ve ever participated in.”
In the fiercely competitive small business lending industry, companies race to offer their capital the fastest or cheapest. Swift Capital had developed a unique algorithm that allowed it to underwrite loans based on more that personal credit, but its working capital programs were hampered by marketing indistinguishable from competitors.
Swift Capital asked Woden to craft a story that differentiate them from competitors and fuel growth. Research showed Swift’s customers craved control more than speed or cost, and Woden developed a StoryKernel that positioned Swift as the lender who allowed borrowers to configure their own loan. This empowering approach became the foundation for LoanBuilder, Swift’s flagship product that was acquired by PayPal in August 2017.
“Thanks for all of the help that you have given us. It certainly sharpened our story.”
Recleim was founded in a South Carolina town devastated by a train accident with dual missions: to renew the earth and to renew the community. Despite these lofty goals and innovative technology competitors couldn’t match, Recleim was unable to get its customers to care in the emotional way that would drive revenue.
Woden and Recleim stitched together its compelling origin story, aspirations for the community, and environmental passions into a single narrative. The StoryKernel helped connect clients with the possibility of doing good while doing well, and gave employees—from executives down to hourly workers in factories—a sense of purpose and community that made Recleim America’s 101st fastest-growing company in 2018.
“We discussed the StoryKernel at our board meeting last night, and it was very well received. I think we finally have the right messaging.”
Earning millennial customers in fintech requires a unique approach. Qapital’s savings app aimed to change consumer behaviors by making saving easy, but for all its work in designing a platform that made saving fun and easy, it was missing a crucial piece: Qapital had to get customers to understand why they should save, and set financial goals, in the first place.
Woden partnered with Qapital to give its behavioral research and technology a storytelling structure that convinced millennials to begin saving in the first place. Woden helped build a narrative that upended traditional messaging, which associated savings with sacrifice—instead emphasizing how Qapital could allow users to both have the experiences they want today, while preparing for a more stable financial future.
“We’re looking for more than downloads. We need to change behavior. This can do that.”
In the span of just a few months, Stir Foods acquired three companies, making them one of the largest manufacturers of soups, sauces, and dressings. The company needed a way to unify its hundreds of employees, and reintroduce the brand to customers old and new. Stir asked Woden to help discover what made them a single organization, beyond common product lines.
Careful listening to the team identified the common bond: a problem-solving passion for developing the custom food solutions Stir’s large customers need. The StoryKernel formed a framework that defined Stir Foods’ new culture, and the StorySeminar united leadership behind a common narrative, values, and purpose to move the brand forward.
“I needed the right framework to bring together our different companies and teams behind a single story, mission, and values. We’re finally on the right track.”
Shaw University is the first Historically Black College and University founded in the former Confederacy. Despite this, and other trailblazing accomplishments, Shaw was suffering from flagging enrollment and declining alumni support. When new president Dr. Paulette Dillard took the helm of the organization, she saw an opportunity to reimagine the HBCU for a new audience and chart a strategy for the future.
Shaw University trusted this opportunity to Woden. Woden worked to develop a strategy that honored the university’s trailblazing legacy, while repositioning it as the modern HBCU: one that sees the student in every individual, and is committed to giving them the opportunities that lead to a brighter future.
“We needed to identify what distinguishes Shaw from others, and a strategy to drive the right business model for the university. Recognizing the student in every individual will ensure we do that.”
How do you convince your clients they have a solvable problem? Chargebee’s platform simplifies and automates SaaS subscription management, retaining customers and valuable recurring revenue. Clients thought it was too good to be true, and failed to convert as Chargebee A/B tested countless marketing campaigns.
Woden helped turned this mishmash of messaging into a focused narrative. Chargebee’s StoryKernel made it clear the platform offered clients the one thing an in-house solution couldn’t: scale. After getting aligned during the StorySeminar, Chargebee’s marketing team was able to move beyond features and benefits to put SaaS revenue leaders’ primary need first—growth.
“Messaging and positioning can be so subjective. How can you build a scientific process behind it? Woden brings out the story and emotion and personality of the brand, but rooted in science.”
When a team of National Security Agency cyber operators saw the vulnerabilities running rampant in firmware, they were compelled to take action: they formed Refirm Labs. The company’s Centrifuge platform was able to identify unknown firmware vulnerabilities. As the world of IoT exploded, the Refirm Labs’ analysis and security products appeared poised for growth.
Woden helped Refirm Labs make the complex world of cybersecurity understandable and urgent. By asking customers a question with an unknowable answer, “What’s lurking in your firmware?”, Woden was able to develop a storytelling strategy that turned firmware vulnerabilities from hidden hypotheticals into urgent problems that required an immediate solution: Refirm Labs.
“This detailed process showed us how to weave our story into all we do, from internal communications to marketing—you truly understand our story, and how to bring it to life.”
An otherwise successful surgery can have life-long effects if a patient experiences nerve damage. Checkpoint Surgical was founded to help surgeons protect nerves during surgeries, and ensure patients recover fully. In a perfect world, Checkpoint’s proven patient outcomes would be all that matters, but confident surgeons and bureaucratic value analysis committees slowed adoption in operating rooms nationwide.
Woden was given the critical task of helping healthcare providers see one truth: that nerves matter. Conversations with key decision makers in the healthcare system exposed needs that complemented patient outcomes, and allowed Checkpoint Surgical to reposition its devices through the StoryKernel: a valuable tool in the hands of a capable surgeon that simultaneously reduces time in surgery while protecting vital nerves.
“Of your 92 suggestions, we’re implementing all but three to align with our story. We didn’t even have to explain them to our team—the hallmark of a great idea!”
Bluecoat American Dry Gin has award-winning flavor and distinctive packaging that stops buyers dead in their tracks. But after 10 years on the market, the brand remained a niche offering: beloved by fans, but lacking mass-market success. Bluecoat asked Woden write the story that would ensure it stood out among other craft spirits.
Drinkers select a spirits brand because of what that choice says about them to the world. The hero Woden placed at the center of Bluecoat’s StoryKernel is the drinker who is declaring Gindependence from the ordinary. Clear positioning—and the detailed implementation strategy contained in the StoryGuide—empowered Bluecoat’s imbibers to go beyond fans and become evangelists.
“This is how we got our fans to tell their friends.”
Digital Reasoning analyzes human communication—the unstructured data from emails, notes, and phone calls that is often opaque but contains critical insights. Financial institutions and healthcare providers rely on Digital Reasoning to protect their brands by improving patient outcomes, compliance, and fiduciary responsibility. The company’s complex and innovative technology is difficult to understand, and can be even harder for new customers to trust.
Woden was asked to transform Digital Reasoning from a company that explained what it did to one that articulates clearly why the world needs it. By connecting its platform to the emotional pain point that animates decision makers—the need for insights at a critical moment that might define a firm’s future—Woden crafted a StoryKernel that made it clear why customers needed Digital Reasoning now.
“There is a narrative thread that runs through the StoryKernel. You really grabbed me linking our tech to ‘high stakes scenarios.’ That is true in our past and present. It also points to our future, and is the linking factor that connects who we have been and where we lead in the market, to where we focus in the future.”
Canadian direct-to-consumer mattress company ENDY had built one of the country’s most notable brands around a high-quality manufacturing and a social mission that moved customers and employees alike. Yet, even after an acquisition by mega-brand Sleep Country, it still was the number two player in its market.
ENDY engaged Woden to help differentiate it from the dozens of online mattress companies. Together, ENDY and Woden put its customer first: Canadians craving a great night’s sleep. The hero-centered approach of the StoryKernel focused the brand on its customers, and found language that spoke directly to the unique needs and desires of Canadians. The StoryGuide brought alignment to the organization behind that message—resulting in more than 200,000 mattresses sold.
“I love the way Woden is going about helping brands to discover their story, and feel like this is critical to our success long term. This work will align our mission, our purpose, and our goals internally”
The open source Redis database has built a reputation as the NoSQL database engineers turn to when they need industry-leading in-memory speeds. But, for all the passion of the technological, open-source community, Redis Enterprise, the company’s paid offering, struggled to gain traction. C-level decision makers did not understand or value the database’s prowess, and a lack of simple messaging made winning in the enterprise impossible.
Woden was engaged to help Redis Labs develop a succinct story that its sales teams and internal advocates could use to advocate within the enterprise, and grow from niche open-source use to enterprise-wide adoption. The StoryKernel was built around a simple idea: those that run fastest, run Redis. Succinct messaging around speed to market, speed of development, and speed of response helped non-technical buyers understand Redis Enterprise’s unique value—and has helped the company secure a $1 billion valuation.
“We really struggled to nail down our messaging, and now I feel we finally have it right.”
Indiana Wesleyan University was a leader in online education: one of the first traditional universities to offer degrees available anywhere. As online learning became increasingly competitive, IWU had difficulty differentiating against other schools touting access and affordability as their main selling points.
Woden was asked to help Indiana Wesleyan University clarify who it was in a way that would resonate with prospective students—and re-assert its leadership in online higher education. The StoryKernel and StorySeminar helped IWU’s senior leadership team get alignment on vital questions related to its Christian identity and student experience, and formed the foundation for a clear statement of purpose around why IWU is different, and why students should care.
“This is the foundation we’ve needed all along to really move our brand forward”
Sandboxx was started to fill an urgent need: US military recruits and service members deployed overseas weren’t at their warfighting best, because they lacked a connection to their support network at home. The effort of connecting virtually anyone to the world’s largest armed forces left Sandboxx spread thin: the product delivered exceptional results, but the market had become so large it was almost impossible to tap.
Woden helped Sandboxx gain crucial insight into its target audience, and built a storytelling platform that identified the most important stakeholders and connected with them. The StoryKernel connected families and recruits at the beginning of their military journey, with the intent of cementing a relationship that would carry them through their entire time as a service member—and into the rest of the military community.
“The ROI for a project like this is incalculable. It’s changed the entire way we think about our business.”
Award-winning craft brewery Melvin Brewing had made a name for itself with distinct IPA’s and an irreverent attitude that reflected its Wyoming roots. But as the company grew from “Small Brewer of the Year” to a combined brewing and restaurant operation with a significant footprint across the United States, it needed to adjust its approach for the mass market.
Woden created the framework for Melvin that united its team around a single purpose, despite being spread across the country. The StoryKernel carved out a distinct space for Melvin Brewing in the crowded craft beer market, and gave its employees clear cultural guidelines that resonated with existing customers—while making the brand just accessible enough for those ready to merge old-school hip-hop and Asian food with beers that taste like madness.
“People need a brewery they can rely on for a kick-ass experience. This is something our potential customers and employees can get behind.”
Rocket.Chat’s team communication platform led it to dive head-first into a competitive space with well-resourced competitors. The company carved out a niche as the customizable, open-source alternative to bigger players, but struggled to gain wider adoption beyond communities transitioning from IRC or excited about open-source customizations.
Woden helped Rocket.Chat clarify its differences from other platforms with more than just technology. The StoryKernel focused the buyer persona for Rocket.Chat, ensuring that it were competing for the customers that would see value in hosting their own chat servers, and tying the platform’s innovations to pain points customers saw in their existing options. The result? Rocket.Chat transformed into a hub of communication that opens a universe of possibilities for its users.
“We were very happy to receive the StoryGuide! We’ve been using it to build out our new website and onboarding materials. You’ve helped us understand and embrace our story—we know how important this is.”
With tens of thousands of customers using its free service, 17hats knew it had developed a platform that could transform solopreneurship. But, low conversion to paid tiers—and poor retention afterwards—led the company to believe it might not completely understand its customer. They engaged Woden.
Woden used the StoryKernel to put the aspirations of 17hats’ customers at the center of the brand. Instead of listing endless features and benefits, 17hats made a promise to allow solopreneurs to spend more time doing what they love in their business. An entirely new customer experience and onboarding experience aligned with the StoryKernel became a launching point for years of growth.
“We have used the StoryKernel to focus our whole company around our hero, and think about how to better serve them.”
In purpose-driven organizations, a clear, compelling brand story is the framework that:
– Fuels Growth
– Aligns Teams
– Inspires Customers
– Defines Strategy
If your brand is ready to reach its full potential, Woden is ready to help you unlock it. Learn more about our methodology today, or chat with our business development team to set up a short call where we can begin your transformation into a story-driven brand.