#StartYourStory: Thinking bigger to see the forest before the trees

#StartYourStory is an ongoing series that explores storytelling lessons from popular media and how we can apply them to branding our organizations and businesses.

By Lauren Tamboer

When starting a new project, #TeamMoonsail thinks first about how storytelling around that project can move an audience to act. But there’s another word in Moonsail North’s tagline that equally drives the work we do on behalf of our clients: strategy.

I just finished reading Ishmael by Daniel Quinn, and it didn’t take much reflection to realize this book would earn a place on my list of perspective-shifting reads. Despite its near three-decade age, it’s one of the most socially-relevant novels I’ve come across, and I highly recommend it, especially if you have an interest in humanity’s relationship to the natural environment.

Without spoiling too much of the novel, the author makes a compelling case for why we’re thinking about addressing climate change in all the wrong ways. I (along with my fellow staunch environmentalist on #TeamMoonsail, Scott) have spent countless hours thinking and talking about what we, as a society, must do to ensure the earth is habitable for future generations.

Often, climate change mitigation is framed around a single issue, like reducing vehicle emissions, enlisting more renewable energy technologies, changing our agricultural system to consume less (or produce more in less space), etc. Granted, we’ve seen some wider-scale thinking grow in prominence recently, such as the Green New Deal, but I would argue that seeing the forest before the trees isn’t the norm.

Quinn, on the other hand, questions the very structure of our civilization, arguing that because humans see themselves as the final result of the evolutionary process, we violate every law of nature. I know I’m getting a little bit existential and philosophical here, but bear with me. How does this help you as you work to grow your own brand and organization?

Ishmael made me take a step back. We can’t parse these issues apart or approach them with discrete, one-off solutions. It’s the same for your organization. No project or venture should be accomplished in a vacuum or viewed as a stand-alone effort.

An effective way to prepare for your organization’s future — whether it’s a social media calendar, a public education campaign, or a plan for engaging your audience — is to consider, first, how each tactic fits into a wider strategy. What are your overarching goals? If you’re not sure how a specific project fits into those goals, it might not be worth the time or resource investment.

Thinking strategically is the only way to guarantee your efforts will truly contribute to your goals, and won’t miss the mark for your target audience. #TeamMoonsail hews to this consistently, and approaches every collaboration through a strategic lens.

It is always good to be reminded to look at the bigger picture — and to establish what you want that picture to look like — before tackling individual projects. Thankfully, we aren’t all faced with a task as daunting as mitigating climate change (though, from #TeamMoonsail’s view, we do all have a role to play in that effort). But that same strategic, overarching perspective is the most effective place to start on any project, whether it affects only your own work process or the organization as a whole.

Have your own thoughts about Ishmael to share? Want to discuss your organization’s overall strategy and how your work can support that strategy? Reach out to #TeamMoonsail!