How to Make Yourself Stand Out with a Compelling Origin Story

How to Make Yourself Stand Out with a Compelling Origin Story

“I need your expertise. I’m building my personal brand and need better positioning on social media. Can you help?”

Matthew is the front man for a rock band, Vinyl Station, but he thinks like a business owner. He wants to take control of his reputation. He needs strategies that leverage his strengths. Strategies that don’t demand a giant budget to execute.

I said yes. We agreed to meet the next day at Peixoto Coffee.


Peixoto is a pretty typical coffee bar in many respects. Old downtown building. Exposed brick walls. Thrift-store furniture. Pierced & tattooed baristas. Metal chairs and tables on the sidewalk out front.

Like I said, typical. As we sat down, I told him, “I don’t really like their coffee, but I keep coming back.”

Does that make any sense?

I’m a coffee lover that didn’t like their coffee. So why do I keep coming back? I’ll give you a hint:

It’s not the atmosphere. Plenty of coffee shops around here have the same atmosphere.

It’s not the people. They’re no better or worse than any other shop around.

It’s not the location. I actually pass a dozen coffee shops on my way to Peixoto.

So what is it?

It’s the emotion I feel.


Why do I go back to Peixoto over and over again? Because I have an emotional bond with their story. I don’t think about them as a business. In fact, I don’t think about them at all. Rather, I have feelings for them.

There’s the difference:thinking versus feeling.

Do people think about you? Or do they have feelings for you?

The smart folks at Peixoto hooked my emotions. They made it almost impossible for me to imagine going anywhere else for coffee meetings.

Now that’s some powerful brand building there.

If you’re an entrepreneur, a business owner or a personality, differentiation is the name of the game. That’s why What You Do matters far less than Who You Are.

Good Feelings Beat Rational Thinking Every Time

I didn’t like Peixoto coffee. Yet I kept going back. That is not a rational thinking.

Imagine this scenario is true for your business:

Even though some people aren’t crazy about your products or services, they keep coming back for more. They keep buying from you. And they are so happy about buying from you that they recommend you to their friends.

That’s exactly how Peixoto affects me.

You wanna talk about Branding Power? Now that’s branding power. Do you want people to connect like that with you? Of course you do.

So what is it that Peixoto did to hook me? How did they grab my emotions so strongly that I hate to go anywhere else for coffee?

The answer is stunningly simple:

They told me an amazing Origin Story – a love story. Their Origin Story made me fall in love with their little company.

Strategies that Turn Business into Pleasure

See, Peixoto is the only coffee shop for hundreds of miles in every direction that grows and harvests their own coffee beans.

The same family that grows the coffee beans in Brazil also sells me the coffee in Arizona. They plant it, grow it, harvest it, ship it, roast it, brew it and finally sell it to me.

The coffee doesn’t change owners from the time it’s planted in the ground until they pass that beautiful white porcelain mug across the stainless steel counter into my eager hands.

I love that story. It makes Peixoto completely unique. And it makes me feel like I am a small part of something amazing and cool.

And so – because I feel that way – I keep on giving Peixoto my business. And I keep on encouraging other people to give them business as well.

(In fact, I had yet another meeting there yesterday. Peixoto is also my favorite “office-away-from-the-office.”)

Brand Yourself with Your Origin Story

Every great Origin Story has three key elements:

  1. A Hero – Your brand’s story should have a hero who resembles your ideal customer.
  2. A Struggle -Your hero should find himself in a predicament that your ideal customer can relate to.
  3. A Solution – Your hero should find a solution that not only resolves his predicament, but is available to your customer today.

The heroes of the Peixoto story are the owners, Jeff Peters and Julia Peixoto Peters. They are just like me: they love a good cup of coffee. And just like me, they don’t like mass-market coffee.

They struggled to find coffee as delicious as the coffee they drank in Brazil. But not just anywhere in Brazil. See, Julia’s father in Brazil actually owns a coffee farm. They couldn’t find coffee that tasty anywhere else.

Their solution? They decided to open their own coffee shop and sell coffee from Julia’s family coffee farm.

They roast the coffee in their own shop. They grind, brew and sell it right there on the corner of Arizona Avenue and Boston Street in Chandler, Arizona.

How to Create, Attract and Keep Customer Emotion

What Peixoto has done with their Origin Story is something you can do as well. Your Origin Story will communicate your emotion to your audience. And your audience will give your their emotion in return.

Every Origin Story is a love story. Find the love in your story, highlight the Hero, the Struggle and the Solution. Then share it with the world.

A compelling Origin Story is your first best way to make yourself irresistible. It lets you brand yourself and define your identity in a way that makes you stand out from the crowd.

Whether business branding or personal branding doesn’t matter: an emotional connection beats a rational decision every time.

Love: It’s the best customer loyalty program in existence.

A related note: Peixoto’s Origin Story kept me coming back until I learned to love their product as much as I love their story. Now I buy their coffee by the bag to brew at home!

Logos vs. Faces • Science Tells Us Which is Best

So you want to create an identity for your business? Science tells us which type of images work best.

HINT: It’s not the ones most people use.

(Transcript)

Let’s talk about how we – how our brains perceive images, words, messages.

And how that affects us when it’s time to set up our marketing, our advertising and our branding.

Neuro-scientists have established pretty conclusively – beyond any doubt – that the human brain / mind / psychology reacts to faces much more positively than to things.

Babies as early as two-weeks old show a marked preferences for faces over things.

Now, before you guys jump in and say, “awww, that’s only true for females rather than males…” No, that’s true for all – both genders – from the beginning.

It is true that males prefer “Things Over People” more than females do.

But across the board, the human brain reacts – even if it’s at a subconscious level – to images of faces much more positively, much more strongly, and much more predictably than the human brain responds to abstract ideas.

So how does that affect us?

I was looking at a potential client today that needs to update their branding. (Now I’m not going to go into what branding is and is not.) Let’s just talk about the kind of thing that they currently have.

Currently, their brand is this very abstract, geometrical, obviously very-high-tech – I don’t know – series of embedded letter “L’s”, it looks like.

Nice colors. I mean, the colors are not terribly interesting. But that’s kinda of tertiary significance.

The primary significant that you want with your imaging is something that is arresting to the eye and utterly unforgettable and completely identifiable and unique.

And they’re nowhere close to that.

Secondarily is what the image actually contains. And tertiary is the colors itself.

These folks have an extremely abstract logo. And what their brand is – is anybody’s guess. So they clearly do need help.

Were I advising them – if they hired me – I was gonna say, “Look, the first thing you’ve gotta do is, you want your image to be something that people instantly relate to. And the human brain instantly relates to faces.”

And in addition to faces – layered on top of the face itself – is a personality.

What we’ve gotta do primarily – number 1 thing – is we’ve got to connect the idea of a personality with a face and character – connect it in the minds of your target audience – with you.

So when they think about YOU – Mr. Company – what they think about is – they think about a person.

And it doesn’t have to be You the CEO or You the Founder, or You even The Spokesperson.

But they’ve got to have an image – a facial image – and a personality that they feel good about, that they can connect with your offering. Whether it’s a service or a product or a company or a club.

People will remember a person with a personality – with a distinctive look and distinctive, relatable personality – long after they’ll remember some sort of abstract image with – you know – well-designed fonts and colors and geometric logo. Those things just don’t have the same kind of cognitive power that faces and personalities have.

When it’s time to create that image for your offering – whether it’s a company, a product a service, whatever it is – rather than going first to the people who design abstract images and they worry about color, think about giving a face and a personality to your offering.

That can be someone who stands for the offering like Colonel Sanders stands for KFC. Like Jack the Clown stands for Jack-in-the-Box restaurants. Like the Geico Gecko stands for Geico Insurance.

But it’s got to be something with a recognizable face. (There’s sound neurological reasons for that.) And a personality that we both relate to and admire.

Remember, if your audience doesn’t feel it, they aren’t gonna love it.

See you tomorrow.

Eric the Car Guy: The Power of Honest Flaws

Eric the Car Guy: The Power of Honest Flaws

[Transcribe]

Hey there YouTube. It’s Jack Heald with Cult Your Brand. When I had originally planned tonight’s episode, I was going to be doing a critique of various social media influencers, looking at how well or how poorly they use the loyalty triggers to create the types of emotional connections in their audience that powerful loyalty triggers will create.

But I do something else besides just write about loyalty and psychology. I occasionally like to fix my own car. In fact, four years ago I stumbled onto a guy who calls himself “Eric the Car Guy.”

And he did such a great job of explaining to me how to change the timing belt on my 2007 Honda Ridgeline, that I became a subscriber to his channel, and have been a supporter and a follower ever since.

So when I looked at his January newsletter today – I think he sent it out two or three days ago, but I just got into it today – he does something in here that I felt like I had to share with you. And that’s what we’re gonna look at today: Eric the Car Guy and how incredibly well he uses one of the most powerful loyalty reflex triggers: The Persona.

[Music]

So this is Eric the Car Guy’s January 2019 newsletter. This only goes to people who are actually his subscribers. He gets really personal in here. It’s kind of amazing. I’d like to just highlight some things in here.

Eric says “I don’t feel the same way I did when I started 10 years ago. I don’t feel the same hunger, (or maybe “desperation” is a better word.) I think that’s what attracted people to my channel in the first place: the desperation and the way I overcame it.”

“I think they saw the same desperation in themselves and my videos helped them overcome it. Let’s face it: if you’ve got a broken vehicle and you can’t get it to work, you might be feeling pretty desperate.”

Eric’s right about all of that. But what he’s telling us here in this newsletter is that his youtube views over the last couple of years are lower than he wanted them to be. And he thinks the reason is because he’s no longer as relatable as he used to be.

Eric is one of the most I suspect one of the most successful guys on YouTube and he says he’s not relatable. Now he rightly diagnoses that part of the reason for his success was that he was extremely relatable, What he fails to recognize is that as he shares what’s going on with himself, he continues to be relatable.

So let’s take a moment real quick and review the the elements of a powerful emotionally compelling persona.

Now a powerful persona – in fact this comes from my training course How to Craft an Irresistible Persona – a powerful persona does something to us as individuals. It creates in us a desire to follow that person.

A well-crafted persona will inevitably provoke emotions in the follower and give the followers confidence that the person that they’re relating to is worth following and is trustworthy.

When we see Hollywood create powerful movies – movies that really connect with their audience – they’re doing a couple of things.

They’re creating positive emotions in their audience. And they’re doing it by creating heroes who are actually believable.

We see the important components of creating a powerful, emotionally resonant persona in the person of Steve Jobs.

Now Steve Jobs had a reputation as being a narcissistic asshole. And a lot of folks think that that narcissism – that assholery that he was so famous for – actually weakened him in terms of his ability to lead Apple and in his terms of his ability to persuade people.

But in fact it was his well-kn own asshole or his well-known narcissism that made him human.

One of the things that human beings love to do is put someone up on a pedestal. But when we put someone up on a pedestal, one of the things that happens is we stop relating to them because we know ourselves. We know we are not perfect.

One of the things that Steve Jobs narcissism did was it brought him off of his pedestal. As brilliant as he was, as visionary as he was, as charismatic as he was, we all knew he was also an asshole, And we also knew that he was he was very much like us.

And in a strange way that humanity – that Steve Jobs exhibited for decades in front of the entire world – is what is a great part of what made him so compelling and so persuasive.

He had flaws and he didn’t hide those flaws.

If we have a modern Steve Jobs, it’s probably Elon Musk. He’s every bit as visionary – in fact possibly even more visionary – than Steve Jobs.

Where Steve Jobs was fundamentally an artist who was concerned about the style and aesthetics of things, Elon Musk is fundamentally an engineer. And there are some of those very common engineering quirks that we see in Elon Musk. But those don’t make him relatable.

It is his flaws that make him relatable. And he’s got a couple of doozies. We’ve seen them exhibited here in the last several months.

He tends to be a little bit morose sometimes. In fact I think it is his deep fear and concern about the future of the human race that drives his creativity. But it also sucks him down into a black hole of depression sometimes. And because he displays that for the world, it humanizes him for us.

Yes, he’s on a pedestal in many ways, (to us – the normal humans around the world.) But he’s also human. And because we see those flaws in him. it makes us feel like, “oh he’s one of us!”

It makes him relatable. And because he’s relatable to us, it makes us much more willing to listen to and believe and most importantly follow him.

He’s got flaws that he doesn’t hide.

I’m gonna go back to Eric the Car Guy’s videos now. He says this, “Just about every one of my dreams in life has come true, thanks to the success of Eric the Car Guy. So why am I not happy? I’ve been asking myself that question a lot lately.”

I want to pause here folks. Do you realize this is one of the most successful youtubers on the planet sending out a newsletter to his subscribers saying “I don’t feel happy. I’m struggling with depression “?

Eric, I’m going to talk directly to you now, man.

You could not have done anything more powerful to improve the strength of your brand, to increase the emotional resonance that you have with your audience, than by sharing this fear, this flaw, this weakness that you have.

One of the most powerful things that any brand persona can do is prove that they are human. I talked about Steve Jobs. I talked about Elon Musk, And we see the same thing here now with Eric the Car Guy.

These people who have great success, we look up to them. But we also want to relate to them.

Why do we want to relate to our heroes?

Well, because if we see that someone who is just like us has achieved great success, then that means that someone just like me can achieve great success. That creates the type of emotion that creates in us is hope. And there is almost no emotion in the world stronger than hope.

So, as you create your brand’s persona, if you want to create that kind of incredibly powerful emotional connection with your audience, then you’ve got to share with them that you’re human. And the way you do that is the way Eric the Car Guy did it: by sharing a fear or a flaw that everyone can relate to.

This is Jack Heald for Cult Your Brand. Thanks for watching.

Dissatisfied Yet Happy: The Weird Brain Science of Customer Loyalty

Dissatisfied Yet Happy: The Weird Brain Science of Customer Loyalty

The happies people are not satisfied people. That doesn’t make sense, does it? Yet brain science tells us that being dissatisfied is not the same as being unhappy. People who are dissatisfied yet also see themselves making progress towards a goal are more happy than satisfied satisfied people. Smart marketers make use of that dissatisfaction to create powerful emotional connections with their customers.

Negative Emotion Drives Desire

It’s good for your business when you allow your customers suffer. Why? I’ll explain in just a moment. First, let’s set the stage.

We all know that emotion drives buying decisions. And we know that facts kill emotion. Savvy marketers have known that’s true for a long time.

Now, thanks to neuroscience, we better understand why people are like that.

For decades, the gurus of marketing have told us to avoid negative emotions. Turns out, they’re wrong.

Negative emotion is not just the absence of positive emotion. It is its own separate thing. Positive emotion and negative emotion use two entirely different circuits in our brains.

That means it’s possible for humans to experience both positive and negative emotions at the same time.

In fact, if your target audience is experiencing negative emotion, you have a great opportunity to leverage that emotion for your own good. Push the right buttons, slide the right levers and you can increase desire.

And then – when you offer a solution to those negative emotions, you’ll create powerful positive emotions. And – if you do it right – you can turn those positive emotions into powerful, long-lasting emotional connections.

However, you gotta know how to leverage that negative emotion.

“Neurophysiologically we are constructed in such a way that we do not experience positive emotion unless we have an aim and we perceive ourselves progressing towards that aim and attaining that aim.” – Dr. Jordan B. Peterson

Negative Emotions Are Almost Always At Work

As I argue elsewhere, we 21st century people walk around with a gaping hole in our psyches. It’s there because our culture has fractured.

Strong cultures keep our deep existential questions at bay. But when culture fractures – as ours has – it no longer gives us answers to our deep questions. And that’s precisely where we find ourselves.

Almost all of us suffer from existential discontent. That’s an emotion that maps onto the negative emotional system. Unless those deep existential questions are answered, that negative emotional system is always going to be working.

The Brain Chemistry of Positive Emotion

We have two different “systems” of brain chemicals that make us feel positive emotions.

One is  dopamine. The other is serotonin.

When we perceive ourselves as making progress towards a goal, then our brains squirt dopamine. That’s a really awesome feeling. When you offer your prospect the chance to solve a nasty problem, it’s dopamine that makes them feel excited about it.

When we actually reach our goal, the dopamine turns off and our brain squirts serotonin instead. Serotonin is a nice feeling, but it’t not as intense as dopamine and it doesn’t last as long.

Dopamine makes us feel good about heading in the right direction to reach our goal. Serotonin makes us feel good about having reached our goal.

So your prospects can feel negative feelings and positive feelings at the same time. You want them to feel dopamine-feelings though. Don’t give them serotonin feelings too soon.

Amplify the Suffering First, THEN Offer the Solution

The old marketing acronym PAS is built on this reality: Pain-Amplification-Solution.

Isn’t it interesting that the old guys knew what worked, even if they didn’t know why it worked? Now we know.


Tell me what you think. Can you see how to amplify customer dissatisfaction in a way that makes them feel more love and loyalty to you? This is where Loyalty Triggers can help. I recommend you get the guide if you don’t already have it.

How To Turn Enemies into Free Advertising

How To Turn Enemies into Free Advertising

Make Enemies and Get Free Advertising.

Question: What is the most valuable asset any brand can possess? If you answered, “loyal enemies,” you go to the head of the class. 

And if you didn’t know that enemies are your most valuable asset… Well…

Look what enemies did for Donald Trump. The mainstream media gave him $2.6 billion dollars worth of free publicity when he ran for president. He was able to get free advertising from the people who hated him the most. (Source: The Street and the New York Times.)

How did that happen?

How To Win Enemies and Influence Friends

If Trump didn’t upset so many of the “right” people with his words, then they wouldn’t have been so eager to discredit him. They thought they were working to discredit them. But he just used them to get free advertising.

Like some weird outer-space creature from a bad Star Trek episode – he seemed to feed on their hatred and grow stronger with every attack. And – even more fascinating – they continue doing it even now.

The media almost uniformly hate the man. Yet they can’t stop themselves from talking about him. It isn’t very rational on their part to keep giving him so much free publicity. Why won’t they just stop?

As you’ve learned if you’ve been one of my readers or customers for any time at all, human beings are not rational.

Donald Trump inflames their hatred with his outlandish pronouncements. The reason they can’t stop talking about The Donald is precisely because they hate him so much.

It’s almost as if he does it on purpose…

Keep Your Friends Close And Your Enemies Pissed Off

We’re taught from an early age to play nice, turn the other cheek, don’t make waves. So you’re surprised – maybe even a little offended – when someone turns on you. We’re taught not to make enemies if we can help it.

Well, as nice as that sounds, it’s lousy advice. At least for business.

If you want your business to boom, you need to cultivate the anger and hatred of your enemies. The more public their hatred, the better it is for you. And if you don’t have any enemies, then you clearly aren’t doing the right thing. (How else do you expect to get free advertising?)

Loyal enemies are worth a hundred passionless customers. They’re worth ten loyal customers, for that matter. Why? Because loyal enemies care enough to hate you. Their passion compels them to speak out against you. And when they speak out against you, that’s when the magic happens.

When your enemies speak out against you, that’s when the magic happens.

The intensity of their hatred provokes your fans. Your average customers will get irritated with the enemy. They will feel compelled to defend you to their friends. And your truly loyal customers will charge to your defense like St. George rescuing the damsel from the dragon.

Your fans will take up your cause and try to shout down the haters. It’s… human nature.

You’ll reap the benefits. People are talking about you. Haters are talking about you. Fans are talking about you. Interest in you is building. At that point, all you gotta do is keep delivering a decent product or service at a fair price. Oh, and one other thing: keep inflaming the haters.

The Donald’s Been Doing It Forever

Donald Trump used this technique to great effect long before he ever thought about running for president. For example, in 1986, his company won a contract from the city of New York to repair and refurbish the Wollman Skating Rink. He used these same tactics to win the contract and garner tons of free publicity as well. (Source: Forbes online.) (Oh, and he completed the contract 30% early and 25% under budget.) He didn’t shame people. He just shamed the system that allowed all previous rebuilding projects to be massive failures. And then – once the project was done – he credited his success to good management. He didn’t publicly shame anyone, (other than Mayor Ed Koch.) Still, he intentionally inflamed the passions of both supporters and detractors. Free publicity combined with a quality product is an unbeatable combination. No wonder he was able to get free advertising. With skills like that, it’s easy to understand how he was able to make a ton of money. He wasn’t paying for advertising. He let the people who hated him do the  advertising for him.

The Care and Feeding of Enemies 101

So is there a “Best Practices” method for creating the right kind of enemies? Absolutely. There is a right way and a wrong way to go about making and provoking enemies. This is where business diverges a little from politics. In politics, you can successfully create haters by attacking people as well as ideas. In business, don’t attack people. Only attack ideas, systems, programs and products. Never attack people. And the attack starts with your manifesto. (You’ve got a manifesto, don’t you?) What exactly is a manifesto? According to Wikipedia:

“A manifesto is a published verbal declaration of the intentions, motives, or views of the issuer, be it an individual, group, political party or government.”

This is no passionless, soulless corporate Vision Statement. This is a line in the sand. An intentional provocation. In fact, the word “manifesto” is from the latin phrase manu festus which means “struck by hand.” It implies action, passion, and impatience. Your manifesto must be hot-blooded, full of fire and fury. You don’t have time to lay out a reasonable argument. You’re in hurry to change the world, and you won’t be bothered with insignificant details. That’s why you “strike by hand” your thoughts, beliefs, hopes and dreams for the future. Your manifesto is the verbal equivalent of a molotov cocktail tossed through the window of the status quo. It is intended to explode, burn and leave a mark. It is not intended to be subtle, reasonable or even possible. In fact, any manifesto worth reading will be entirely unreasonable.

Build Your Manifesto and Buckle Up

A good manifesto has three parts:
  1. Denounce the Problem(s) with the Status Quo
  2. Pronounce the Glorious Future, (once the problems of the status quo are fixed)
  3. Announce the Actions you are taking to make that future vision a reality.
You must demonize the enemy, (whatever that may be). You must turn molehills into mountains. You must not worry about the details of execution. What matters is the passion and urgency of your mission. You must issue a clarion call to all right-minded folk to join you in your glorious mission. Do that with your manifesto. Publish it far and wide, and you will create loyal fans. Even better, you will create loyal enemies. Make sure you publicize all the nasty things people say about you. Send an email to your fans saying “look what they said about me,” and then copy and paste their insults. That will galvanize your supporters to ride to your defense. Remember to thank them – publicly and humbly – for their support. And then get ready for the  onslaught of business. It will come as surely as day follows night.
More Evidence that Emotion Beats Facts

More Evidence that Emotion Beats Facts

People are never, ever persuaded by facts. Facts are tools used to justify a decision, not make the decision. Today, a lesson from the world of finance.

(Transcript)

Hi, I’m Jack Heald for Cult Your Brand. People almost never make rational decisions. Even the most rational people make their decisions on emotion.

My younger son is a financial advisor. He challenged my statement that people don’t make decisions rationally. He told me that when his clients call him, he explains all the rational reasons why they should follow his advice. And they do. Therefore – according to him – they make rational decisions.

I asked a couple of questions. “When your clients call you, are they upset?” Yes. “Are they driven by fear?” Yes.

“So what you do when you talk to them is make them feel better, right?” Yes.

He uses facts. But that facts are not appealing to his clients emotions. The facts appeal to their rationality. And their rationality is not in charge of their emotions. My son’s calmness, his confidence, appeals to their emotion. And as they listen to his confident words and competent command of ideas, their fears subside. They feel better. And as they feel better, they can then grasp onto those facts and use them as anchors for the decision they have ALREADY MADE.

I asked him one more question. “Don’t they just take the FACTS you gave them and take those FACTS back to their spouse to JUSTIFY the decision that they’ve already made?” Yes. That is exactly what happens.

People are never, ever persuaded by facts. They are persuaded by emotion. They justify their emotion-driven decision with data.

That’s why you should Cult Your Brand.

Why We Only Seem to Be Rational

Want to learn a little more about how and why humans make the decisions we do?

One of the best books on the subject is Daniel Kahnemann’s Thinking Fast and Slow.