Today I’ll be going into some more detail on the first ingredient of story we measure in the Original Recipe™1 process: Purpose

You might be surprised how many marketing/video/storytelling endeavors begin without a clear Purpose.

Purpose has two sides. One is “our” side: “Why are we telling this story? What are our objectives?” Answering these questions is a helpful exercise. Believe it or not, this is often glossed over.

The other side is your audience’s side: “What is this thing? What’s the point?”

All story ingredients have a dark side and Purpose is no exception. The “market” dark side of Purpose is why every movie is a sequel or reboot of something someone wrote more than 50 years ago.

The best predictor of a movie’s success is if the audience knows “what it is.” 🤷‍♂️

When the financial risks are as high as they are in filmmaking, of course all movies will default to Lego Batman Star Wars (but Frozen).

The non-dark side lesson we can take from this is that it’s super important that our story’s audience has a sense of what it’s “about.”

The Purpose ingredient is where I personally measure a statement like: “To convey our company’s serious investment in sustainability, we’re telling the personal stories of those most affected by environmental damage. By giving them a voice, we show (don’t tell) our commitment.”

For each story ingredient in the Original Recipe™, I’ll provide examples at the extremes: What happens if a story is only Purpose and what if a story has everything but Purpose?

A story that only has Purpose but no Authenticity, Conflict, Spectacle, or Novelty is an infomercial: “We want you to buy this thing. This story is about buying this thing. We’ll use every tool (as long as it requires no effort or imagination) to get you to buy it. Buy it. Buy it. Buy it!”

A story that has Authenticity, Conflict, Spectacle, and Novelty but no Purpose is arthouse cinema material. It may be beautiful and nuanced and amazing, but it probably won’t be very useful for any marketing purpose.

Each story ingredient has at least one balancing ingredient that is most affected when it dominates the recipe.

Purpose’s most prominent balancing ingredient is Novelty. See Hollywood for the best example of an overemphasis on Purpose squeezing out all Novelty.

Purpose is the first ingredient of the Original Recipe™ for a reason: It’s the most helpful to think about first, it’s the easiest to take for granted/not spend enough attention on, and it’s the ingredient that most affects whether an audience entertains your story at all.

  1. I wrote an introduction to the Original Recipe here. [return]