Story Rules

Your story tells your future.


There are rules to writing a business success story. And if you know the rules, you can navigate to the future you choose.

We work with CEOs, VCs, and investment bankers to study a company’s current story to assess which futures are available to the company (and which are not), as well as what changes need to happen to end up in a better place.

We apply smart research to story – the framework humans have used to make sense of life and to make all of their decisions for thousands of years – to help businesses own and align around their best and truest story, share it effectively with the world, and become radically more efficient by navigating key moments in accordance with their identity and role in the world.

You may not have thought about how the rules of your game determine the options in front of you, and the outcomes available to you. But there are rules to everything, and if you know how your data lines up with the rules, you can tell your future.

Consider the tic tac toe game on this page. It is incomplete, but you know at a glance how it will turn out.

Scale this up a bit.

Say there’s a man in his 50s driving a 5-series BMW with his wife in the passenger seat. What will happen in his story when he’s faced with an economic setback?

We don’t know; there isn’t enough data. But try this.

There is a man in his 50s, with a grey goatee, vaping in his convertible 5-series BMW with his glammed-out 30-something wife in the passenger seat. What will happen in his story when he’s faced with an economic setback?

Or another. Ten years ago, a private equity firm acquired a manufacturing business for $60MM based on a valuation derived from a single exceptionally good – fluke of an outlier good – year’s performance. Had they reviewed the purchase through a multiple year lens, they would have seen the company was probably worth closer to $30MM. A new CFO was recently brought in, their long-time head of business development just gave notice, and the dumpsters and port-o-lets have been picked up from their job sites due to lack of payment. What story options and conclusions do you see for the manufacturing company, and for the private equity firm?

A business story consists of the interweaving of four key brandlines (our version of what traditional storytelling calls throughlines).

  1. The market brandline (both the market for your offering, and the market in which your business itself is the offering).

  2. The customer brandline (your customer is the main character in your story).

  3. Your company brandline (you exist as an impact character delivering value that elicits action from the customer).

  4. The experience brandline, based on the experiences that shape the relationship between you and your customer.

People, temperaments, team dynamics, and limiting forces like time, money, economic turns, or technology innovations determine which options exist within your story, and how that story can turn out.

We bring raw data, interview data (both objective and subjective), and best practice audits from brand strategy, sales, marketing, product, culture, and interpersonal communication disciplines together to uncover our clients’ limiting choices, and then we help chart a new chosen course to a better outcome.

It’s your story. How much mystery, drama, tragedy, comedy, adventure, or inspiration it involves is up to you. We can help.