Here are 11 Origin Story Examples to help you tell your brand story.
Why you need an Origin Story
Origin stories tell us how things began. Peter Parker became Spiderman when he was bitten by a genetically enhanced spider. This game him superhuman strength and speed plus the ability to create a spider web and cling to walls. (Origin Story Example 1)
Origin stories provide context. It helps to know that Harry Potter’s father was a wizard. And knowing that Lord Voldemort killed his father gives added meaning and emotion to Harry’s battle with his nemesis. (2)
Netflix began as a DVD rental company. Marc Randolph and Reed Hastings started sending DVDs in the mail. Legend has it Hastings was inspired to start their business after he was charged a $40 late fee from Blockbuster Video. Rather than adopt a per-video fee, their business model was based on a monthly subscription. Blockbuster eventually copied this model with the advantage of returning DVDs to retail outlets. This prompted Netflix to shift their business online which later led to eliminating the DVDs and streaming shows directly. (3)
Origin stories inspire us when we see how big things started in humble ways. Apple was started in the garage of Steve Jobs’ parent’s house. ‘Hey Mom, we’re going out to the garage to start a billion-dollar company.’ ‘That’s nice dear, just don’t make too much noise as your father is having a nap.’ (4)
Origin stories are unique which helps you stand out and be memorable. Ben and Jerry started their empire through an ice cream correspondence course from Pennsylvania State University’s Creamery. (5)
Trust and Rapport
If we’re going to do business with you or join your tribe, we want to know who you are. Tell your origin story to create trust and build rapport.
JK Rowling was a single mum who wrote her first Harry Potter books in a cafe in Edinburgh. She didn’t have a lot of money so she went there to save money on heating her home all day. (6)
Marvel and DC built their empire based on the origin stories of their superheroes and so can you.
Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page started building a search engine in their dorm room at Standford. Legend has it the name was meant to be spelt Googol which means 1 with 100 zeros. But was mis-spelt on their application form. (7)
Why Bill Gates Dropped Out of College
Most people know that Gates dropped out of Harvard, started a computer company called Microsoft and became the richest man in the world. What most people don’t know is what Gates did BEFORE he went to Harvard.
As the son of wealthy parents, Gates was able to attend an elite private school in Seattle. As fortune would have it, the mothers club decided the school needed a computer. Today this sounds normal. But, back in 1968, many colleges didn’t even have computers, let alone high schools.
Bill became hooked on computer programming. He programmed during the day, throughout the weekend and he even snuck out of his bedroom window to program at night. Bill was doing 20 to 30 hours a week of programming while still in high school. He was probably one of the few people in the world that didn’t need to go to Harvard! (Origin Story Example 8)
A Simple Way to Create Your Origin Story
Here’s a simple three-step formula for creating your Origin Story.
How Janet Jackson started YouTube
At the 2004 Superbowl, Janet Jackson had a wardrobe malfunction. It was big news. But YouTube founders (Chad Hurley, Steven Chen and Jawed Karim) couldn’t find the footage online. This inspired them to create a new online video-sharing platform. (9)
- Problem – What’s the problem you want to solve? The YouTube founders couldn’t find a find online.
- Incident – What’s the specific moment or event that triggered you into action? Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction.
- Solution – What did you do about this? Hurley, Chen and Karim built an online video-sharing platform.
How to Tell Your Brand Story
Once you have identified your three Origin Story elements, you need to put them together into a story. Start by writing this out in full. By fleshing out all the detail you’ll have a fuller and more immersive story to work from later.
PROBLEM: I was looking for a new business name. For me, the term Thought Leader had a mixed reputation and the term Content Creator was too broad. I needed something else. (10)
The key to a great story is to be specific. When was it? Where were you? Who were you with? What did you see, hear and feel?
INCIDENT: I was watching the 2023 World Swimming Championships in Fukuoka, Japan. One of the commentators was talking about Australia’s Kaylee McKeown who had just won gold in the 100 metres backstroke. They said, ‘She is a champion in the pool because of what she does out of the pool’. I thought, ‘That’s interesting!’
Make it clear why this was a turning point for you.
SOLUTION: That sparked the name ‘Content Champion’. This sounded good and it was an identity you could aspire to. Then I looked up the definition of ‘champion’. There were three parts to the definition. A champion is someone who has elite skills and produces elite results. But the best part was the third piece of the definition. To champion means to promote or defend a cause. That was perfect because that’s what I felt was missing from a lot of content. Now I knew I had something wonderful and this was the start of my new business.
What’s your 1-2 Sentence Origin Story?
Once you’ve written your long version you also want to write a short version too. Aim for one to two sentences. This will give you more opportunities to share your origin story.
Alan Forsyth, the author of Milk Tea Cant, tells his origin story in only 37 words: “I’ve only been doing this for six years. It came from a challenge from my wife. Whilst we were in New York when we were living in the UK, said ‘How about you write your first novel?’” (11)
Where to use your Origin Story
Now that you have your origin story, what can you do with it? The obvious thing is to share it – tell others. And by having both a long and a short version you have more choices for when and where you can share it. For instance:
- Put it on the packaging of your products
- Add it to the About You section on your website
- Include it in your pitches to potential clients
- Tell your story in your presentations
- Refer to it in your coaching conversations
- Use it at networking events to introduce yourself
- Make a movie about it like Spiderman
You can use your Origin Story almost anywhere you are meeting with people and talking about your business. It’s a simple way to create rapport and be memorable because your origin story is unique. Use it as a key part of telling your brand story.
More Origin Story Examples and How to Tell Your Brand Story
Here are some more posts and videos to help you explore your brand story further.
- Personal vision statement Be inspired in 4 simple steps
- BRAND YOURSELF – 3 ways to create a Brand Video
- Inspiring Mission Statement Examples from the best Content Creators
Add a comment below to share your origin story example. What was the moment that triggered you into action?