You should be able to articulate what your organisation is about in just four words. It’s not easy, but four words is concise enough to allow your audience to process, understand, and then engage with you immediately. More than four words means there is more to process and understand, and any engagement is likely to involve you repeating, rewording or elaborating on your first attempt.
A four word story is much like a movie log-line. Screenwriters use log-lines to summarise their screenplay into a sentence or two. When studios have thousands of screenplays to read every week, they often use log-lines to filter down those that they’re interested in reading.
Here’s the log-line for Gladiator: “When a Roman general is betrayed and his family murdered by a corrupt prince, he comes to Rome as a gladiator to seek his revenge.
Log-lines aim to command the reader’s attention and encourage them to find out more. Four-word stories are exactly the same. Here are some takes on well-known brands/products:
- Twitter: Find out what’s happening
- Dropbox: Access your stuff anywhere
- Paypal: Online payments made easy
A set-up for your elevator pitch
Four-word stories can be used to initiate your elevator pitch. Here’s an example of how we would use our four-word story when meeting an architect for the first time:
Architect: So what do you do?
Tribus employee: Communicate compelling brand stories.
Architect: Interesting. Brands have stories?
Tribus employee: We believe they should. Storytelling has been around since cave paintings. It’s the most effective way of communicating. Think about novels, paintings, comics, plays, movies, computer games – all story-driven. So why not market your brand with a story? It’ll speak directly to your customers, differentiate you from the competition, and build the value of your brand.
Architect: That’s a really good point. Listen, do you have a card? I’d like to pick your brains on this sometime.
Draw on the human need
Craft your four-word story by drawing on the human need that you solve. Also, avoid being generic, and try to include your differentiating factor – the reason for choosing you over your competitors.
Here’s our four-word story broken down:
- Communicate: we are a marketing agency
- Compelling: we are good at what we do
- Brand: we are a B2B agency
- Stories: our differentiating factor
After hearing your four-word story, and listening to your elevator pitch, they should have a good understanding of what your brand is about. Now is the time to get into the finer details of how you achieve results, and what it’s like to work with you.
Try and craft your four-word story. Break down the essence of what you do into a couple of sentences, and then strip away the fat until you have your words. Remember to draw on the human need that your service or product solves. And then try it out on people, see if you can invoke your elevator pitch.
If you have any questions about crafting your four-word story, we’d love to hear from you. Simply hit reply, and we’ll get back to you with some suggestions. We’re suckers for story!