Justin Ricklefs


An Identity Crisis

“We don’t really know who we are. I mean, I could tell you everything about us, but I’m not sure that’s what you’re asking.”

I’ve heard some version of this a dozen times in the past several months.

Heck, I’ve said similar things about our own company.

The dialogue is usually followed by the business owner or marketing leader saying something that closely resembles this…

“We need help telling our story.”


We’re all in that boat to some degree.

The challenge though isn’t necessarily in the telling of the story, it’s far more in the articulation and discovery of the story in the first place.

Once you have that, the telling of it, is quite simple actually. It’s just a matter of doing it.

But if you have no idea what the story even is, well, you get comments like the above.

There are a million ways to get at this story work, but here are five questions we’ve found helpful as we’ve begun helping brands articulate theirs:

1. When things go great, what do clients experience when they engage with you? Not just the process but the feelings, the experience.

2. What’s at stake here? Not revenue and headcount and returns, but what’s on the line every day when y’all get to work? What changes, what gets better, what inspires?

3. What do you imagine people say about your brand (company, organization, nonprofit, group, executive) when you’re not in the room?

4. When was a time that felt hopeless or overwhelming that turned out to be a pivotal moment?

5. Why do you do this? A long awkward pause… Like, why do you really do this work?

Listen closely.

As they open up the treasure chest, the story starts to become clear once they are brave enough to head back into the headwaters of it…

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