10 Tips for a Compelling Small Business Origin Story Video
All great superheroes (and some not-so-great… “Matter Eater Lad” anyone?) have an origin story. A few of the better-known examples deal with surviving a great disaster, overcoming catastrophic personal injury, disability or family tragedy, being afflicted/infected/injected/mutated by any number of maladies, experiments gone awry or bizarre substances. As mere mortals, we can’t seem to get enough of these tales wherein a lone individual, a dynamic duo or a rag-tag team, against seemingly impossible odds, finds ultimate success. Over the course of our lives, we’ve all faced challenges and personal battles in varying degrees that have forged us into the men and women we have become. These fictional origin stories resonate with us for one simple reason—there is something in each one we can personally relate to.
As a business owner and entrepreneur, you are keenly aware of the struggles and challenges you’ve faced to get your company where it is today. And, though you might not have superpowers per se, you do have an origin story that is worth telling—one that is worth sharing with your customers, your employees and the world at large. Every successful company that has ever existed came from one spark of an idea that just wouldn’t go away. Every one of those sparks came from an individual or small group who refused to quit and kept forging ahead despite the odds.
Corporate origins run the entire gamut of human endeavor; from the quintessential “rags to riches” tales of yesteryear to the venture capital-backed tech startups, franchise and spin-off stories of today. Naturally, there is more inherent drama and excitement baked into the story of an immigrant who arrived in New York with nothing more than a dream, a recipe for tasty bagels and five dollars in his pocket than there is in the tale of a person with a net worth in excess of 10 million dollars buying into an existing franchise, but the point is still valid. Both people took some kind of risk, stuck with it and brought something to life that was not there before. Even if your story doesn’t include the kind of twists and turns that would excite a Hollywood producer, there was at least one event in your life that motivated you to be a leader instead of a follower. Regardless of your bank balance or social status when you started, you obviously had that entrepreneurial spark. At what point did you realize this was your calling? Start from there.
Once you have your story written out, your interviews lined up and your archival photos scanned, you’re ready to make a movie! Here are some tips to steer you in the right direction:
Ten Tips for a Compelling Corporate Origin Story Video
- Three to five minutes total run time is best for most small to medium businesses.
- If the CEO/Founder is still around and hasn’t been interviewed on camera yet, do so ASAP!
- If you don’t have enough video footage, use still photos with subtle movement.
- Choose background music carefully (and legally) to complement the visuals.
- Narration should be done by the CEO/Founder, or find a good voiceover artist.
- Find the mood that works best: reverent, whimsical, energetic, triumphant, etc.
- Your story must be HONEST! No making stuff up just to look good!
- Skip over the slow bits and concentrate on the milestones.
- Include a few setbacks and how you overcame them.
- Documentary structure is recommended, but avoid being too long-winded (unless you really need to turn it into an epic miniseries for some reason).
Here’s the corporate origin story video we put together at QuantumDigital. We premiered it first for our associates, then for our clients and prospects at the 2013 REALTORS® Conference & Expo in San Francisco. We think you’ll enjoy it, too!
In closing, a well-made video of how and why your company came into existence serves multiple purposes: it gives your employees an emotional connection to the soul of your company, it can make your clients and vendors feel better about doing business with you, and… who knows? Maybe there’s something in your company’s origin story that will ignite a spark in the mind of the next great entrepreneur!