What is the 3-word essence of your story?

By Neil McCormick published October 17, 2017

What is the 3-word essence of your story?   

What is the 3-word essence of your story? Everyone is familiar with the 30-second elevator speech. You’ve likely developed one for your personal, “Who am I and why am I here?” story. And you probably know your company’s 30-second, “Who are we and what do we do?” story by heart. But, can you market yourself with just three words? Let’s look at how to refine a story by using a 3-word Brand Mantra.

In his book, A New Brand World, Scott Bedbury (former VP of Marketing Communications for Nike and Starbucks) presented the concept of a 3-word Brand Mantra.

Nike: Authentic, Athletic, Apparel

Starbucks: Rewarding, Everyday, Moments

Every marketing communications item those two companies created had to pass the 3-word Brand Mantra litmus test.  Another company, Buffalo Wild Wings, uses their brand mantra in their commercials: Wings, Beer, Sports. (With clarity like that, there is no doubt what you are going to get when you go there.)

The 3-word mantra for the video side of my company, Cinécraft Productions,  is: “Experienced, Business, Storytellers.”

You can do this distillation with any single story you are trying to tell. Distill the story into a 3-word mantra or essence, then use the 3-word essence as your litmus test for choosing relevant content elements. As you craft your story, keep asking, “Does this content element fit and support the 3-word-essence of the story I’m telling?”

When editing interview-driven videos, I’ve found that using this 3-word-essence technique as a test to select sound bites saves time by encouraging me to make more cuts more quickly. A multiple-step editing process, where smaller pieces of the story are trimmed away with each pass through the content, is like carving a sculpture out of a tree, where you chip away at the mass of interview content, slowly whittling it down to the story essence. The “3-word story essence” approach is like starting with a chainsaw. If you have confidence in what you are doing, and skilled with your tools, you can create a good rough cut quickly and spend more time on refinements and polishing.

Here’s a link to Amber Miller’s Viking Story, a fundraising video we made for Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School. The story essence: Faith, Metamorphosis, Achievement.

Remember: Being a great video storyteller is not rocket science, but it is brain surgery.

Put storytelling to work in your next video and share it with me. I love a good story share it with me in a comment below or an email: neil@cinecraft.com. If you liked what you read, please subscribe and you’ll receive helpful topics delivered to your inbox each week.

PS The 3-word story essence for this post:  eye-opening, succinct, try-it

“What is the 3-word essence of your story?” is part three in McCormick’s Storytelling Series:

Put Storytelling to Work for You

Tell a Good Story with Video: Hook – Engage – Evoke

What is the 3-word essence of your story?

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