The New StoryGuide: A Journey You—and Your Customers—Must Take
Woden has made the StoryGuide™ into the definitive blueprint on how your brand can use its strategic narrative
By Ed Lynes
Across more than 300 Woden engagements and thousands of calls with prospects, I’ve been asked one question more than any other: “how do you measure the impact of a strategic narrative? How will I know if our StoryKernel works?”
This week, Woden is releasing a major revision to the StoryGuide that will ensure our clients are seen as essential. It’s the most significant improvement to this product since 2018—we’ve added significantly more content, and restructured the StoryGuide to make it easier than ever for a brand to bring its StoryKernel to life.
Strategic narrative is the foundation of an efficient sales funnel; you know your brand’s story works when it draws in prospects, converts them into customers, and inspires them to become evangelists. Woden crafts each clients’ strategic narrative—their StoryKernel—with this in mind: the arc of the StoryKernel maps perfectly to each stage of the customer journey.
Despite this connection, we designed the last version of the StoryGuide (released in 2021 alongside our StoryAccelerator product) around functional areas of a business: growth, people, CX, and product. In the last two years, Woden has refined its messaging hierarchy and more tightly connected the StoryKernel with the specific, tactical messaging clients use to deploy it across their customer journey. We’ve brought the StoryGuide into alignment with that approach.
The new StoryGuide is built around a detailed, five-part customer journey. At each stage, the StoryGuide lays out how a brand should tell its story through buyer personas, detailed pitches , origin and product stories, differentiators, CTAs, content strategies, and more. The journey is bookended by an actionable guide to positioning, verbal identity and other foundations of the brand, and a summary of Woden’s research.
Woden backs its projects with a guarantee: if we don’t uncover what makes your brand essential in five weeks, we’ll refund the engagement fee. We’re so confident in the new StoryGuide that we’re extending that guarantee—if the StoryGuide doesn’t contain what your company needs to become an essential brand, we’ll redo it at no charge, and keep doing it until it’s right.
Woden has consistently benefitted from our clients’ generous feedback. It’s no surprise that the latest changes to the StoryGuide began that way: with our client, Binary Defense. We did some incredible work for Binary Defense: a differentiated strategic narrative that captured what made them essential and a memorable positioning statement.
Binary Defense was a happy client. But when I asked for feedback on the StoryGuide, they were transparent: the content was amazing, but it was tough to use, which made it difficult to stand up in their business. David White, Binary Defense’s VP of Marketing, suggested we lean into the messaging frameworks that had caused them to engage in the first place, which are unique to Woden.
Woden’s Proprietary Messaging Framework
Each clients’ StoryKernel is built around five elements of the Hero’s Journey narrative arc: the Broken World, the Hero, the Mentor, a Magical Gift, and the Mended World. This focuses the narrative and helps clients align around how to define (respectively) the pain points they solve for, their customer profile, how they want to be positioned, their product or service, and what success looks like for clients.
What’s unique about Woden’s strategic narrative approach is that we take that one document and use it to develop a consistent messaging framework that’s designed to ensure prospects and customers alike see our client as essential.
The StoryKernel itself defines a brand’s purpose, differentiators, promise and verbal identity. And from that narrative we develop buyer personas (from the Hero); mission, values and brand personality (the Mentor); positioning (Magical Gift), and vision (Mended World). We refine that foundation into product messaging, and eventually the most tactical elements of storytelling such as pitches, copy, collateral, emails, and more.
Each section of the StoryKernel also maps directly onto the customer journey. The story’s Broken World contains the urgent, pain-point driven messaging that builds urgency in the Awareness stage, before creating empathy and connection in the Consideration phase. As a prospect nears a sale in the Evaluation phase, the brand’s positioning as Mentor creates the credibility that converts opportunities. And messaging that ensures the product is seen by customers as a Magical Gift supports a delightful Customer Experience—leading to Evangelism as customers share their Mended World with others.
What’s Inside the New StoryGuide
This framework organizes the new StoryGuide. The first section introduces the StoryKernel and outlines the foundations of the messaging hierarchy above we develop collaboratively with each brand in their StorySeminar. On its own, this section is an in-depth brand guide leaders can use to align their teams and ensure the story is understood by those who must use it daily.
The rest of the guide is built around the customer journey. For each phase, Woden includes pitches, calls-to-action, and customer stories for each audience—giving our client a variety of “ready to use” applications of their StoryKernel. Within the chapter for each stage of the journey are additional deliverables a brand needs to bring their story to life.
Because each of these elements are derived from the brand’s strategic narrative, they work together to keep prospects and customers moving through the funnel as efficiently as possible. The StoryGuide’s new structure is intuitive, and makes content easy to find and use—your team will know how to tell their story at each stage of the funnel and how to leverage it to lead in your market.
All Woden projects commence with a research phase to discover what makes our clients essential consisting of analysis, market and competitive research, interviews and surveys. The outputs of this work (which we back with our guarantee) are included in the StoryGuide for easy reference as the company implements its StoryKernel.
Woden began 2023 by committing to our Big Fucking Goal: “to establish a strategic narrative as the foundation of any successful organization.” Defining our own Mended World in this way led to the launch of our small business engagements earlier this year, and has now pushed us to deliver an equally ambitious StoryGuide. The StoryKernel provides brands the foundation that makes them essential, and the StoryGuide ensures they can use their strategic narrative in the to lead in their market.
We’re excited to share this new StoryGuide with the world and to see how our clients put it to work (and yes, it’s available to our small business clients, too). Purposeful companies deserve to be seen as essential by their prospects and customers, and Woden’s never been more prepared to help them achieve that transformation.
Ed Lynes is the founder and Managing Partner at Woden. Want to stay connected? Read our extensive guide on how to craft your organization’s narrative, or send us an email at email@example.com to start the journey to uncover what makes you essential.