Imagine for a moment that anyone and everyone interacting with you had the same experience. Imagine that whenever they picked up one of your products, or read your content, or even thought of you, the impression was consistent. It meant something to them. Something specific. In fact, they could take your name off of whatever it was, and they’d still know it was you.
Now, imagine they could do that because “you” don’t actually exist at all.
That’s not possible, right?
Welllll, to you I present Exhibit A from the #swipefile, in which we discover that Carolyn Keene, creator and chronicler of teen detective Nancy Drew… didn’t actually exist. Like her main character, “Carolyn Keene” was made up. But unlike her main character, “Carolyn Keene” was actually a number of different people, writing as “Carolyn Keene.”
And more importantly, HOW DID WE NOT KNOW?
There’s lots to explore in that, of course. Everything from a clear style guide to having a consistent person (and thus a consistent point of view) to create the plot outlines. But even then, all of that came from a realization by Edward Stratemeyer, the founder of the of the “syndicate” that was responsible for Nancy Drew (and Carolyn Keene… and a number of other “authors” of famous fiction series like the Hardy Boys and the Bobbsey Twins <mind blown>).
What he figured out was that the experience of the books was more important than the explanation of who actually wrote it.* The only explanation that mattered was the internal one** – the aforementioned style guides and POV – because those are what created the external experience of the reader.
But don’t miss this: the only “explanation” that survived externally was the author’s name. “Carolyn Keene,” combined with the Nancy Drew series, carried the only explanation a potential reader needed. As soon as they saw those two things on the cover of a book, they knew what to expect inside, much like a brand name or logo often carries the weight for you or your organization.
Now, you’ve probably done the hard work of finding and defining your own style guides and POV, of defining your brand, of finding your “why.” And, because you’ve efforted really hard on that (yep, totally just verbed a noun. Twice.), you kinda want to, well, explain it to everyone. All the time. Externally.
But remember how your positioning statement isn’t supposed to be external? Yeah, neither is the explanation of your why. Yes, you need it so you can create the consistent, external experience (like we all had with Nancy Drew), but don’t lead with it… because an explanation is not an experience. Far from it.
You don’t create a consistent experience by telling the same story (or giving the same explanation) over and over again. That’s why the brand tagline you worked so hard to develop doesn’t work to inspire day-to-day content creation.
No, you create a consistent experience by first having a consistent understanding of what creates that experience for your clients and customers. The Stratemeyer Syndicate was able to create that consistent experience by understanding (and capturing in style guides and plotlines) what created “Carolyn Keene”‘s consistent point of view. That documented understanding allowed multiple authors to see the world through “Carolyn Keene”‘s eyes, and thus embody her style.
You can create that consistent experience, too, but it doesn’t have to be – and indeed shouldn’t be – the same experience. After all, those fifty-six Nancy Drew books were all different from each other, but created an experience together. But that, of course, means you know what your point of view actually is.
When I’m working with clients on this, we’re answering questions like: What are we trying to achieve? What problems are we drawn to solve? What beliefs guide how we operate? How do those explain our approach to the market? How does that approach show up in our products and services? I like to put all of that into a “Storyline,” a quick way to summarize and share those key ideas.
The point of all of this is to remember what I’m dubbing the “Stratemeyer Scale”: the clearer the explanation internally, the more consistent the experience externally.
Where on that would you fall? I’d love to know.
*This is a Problem Statement, by the way, and one I simplified and drew from how the original article framed it. Always keep your eyes open for a two-part frame on a problem (e.g., experience/explanation), whether in others’ content or your own. Those two sides help your audience find the new insight. If you’re looking for the Goal Statement in this post, it’s bolded in the first paragraph.
**That’s the Truth Statement. It makes the new perspective (in this case, “explanation”) impossible to ignore.Create a consistent experience by first having a consistent understanding of what creates that experience for your clients and customers. Click To Tweet
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