To Make Your Narrative Work, Name It - Part 2

It’s a big deal to give a good name to a new narrative if you want your community to embrace it.

When we introduce an innovation, we can categorize it as different if we introduce a new narrative. The name of this new narrative has important implications. If we want people to adopt it, they need an easy way to understand and adopt it.

In case you missed yesterday’s post, I used the concept of a “designated driver” as an example of a narrative that had a significant positive impact, particularly for its name.

Here is a retake on the principles you need to know when choosing the right name for a new narrative.

Make it clear

A good narrative name reduces the uncertainty and confusion about your idea or product. It defines what it is about.

Make it handy

Focus on how easily people will be able to spread the word. A narrative gains traction if it feels familiar and accessible. In that case, it will be easy for people to endorse the new concept. It will make the narrative memorable.

Bring it to life

The name of a narrative is worthless by itself. What makes a narrative powerful is everything associated with the idea and everyone using the idea by its name. Tell rich stories about it. The name is what a title is to a book. After you’ve said it, you need to bring it to life. Some logos are worth nothing, and some others are worth millions not because they look better but because they’re associated with detailed descriptions of a lifestyle that people share.

Diversify your channels

Use a variety of mediums to spread your narrative. Create a network of advocates and influencers who will share it with society through storytelling.

Say it again and again

In this context, repetition is good. We usually tend to undermine it, but it is any leader’s best friend. Use any chance you have to introduce your narrative by its name to everyone. It takes many times for people to be aware, accept and believe in a new way of doing something. Make a sticker out of your narrative and stick it everywhere.

Stay consistent

Don’t drift and resist the temptation to use alternate labels. Please stick to your words, so people recognize them as a pattern. A “designated driver” is never an “appointed drive” or an “assigned driver”. He or she is a “designated driver”. Period.

Be benevolent

If you’re introducing a new narrative, you are probably replacing an old one. Don’t blame people for doing something obsolete or wrong on purpose. The old narrative used to work. It was institutionalized, adopted and comfortable. But the context has changed; there are new technology, new knowledge and new expectations. You’re here to help people transition. If you can, share your own journey through this transition.

Evolve it

Realize that you are probably not the only one trying to develop a new narrative on your particular topic. A narrative is collectively created and socially negotiated. As Fernando Suarez and Stine Grodal wrote in the MIT Sloan Management Review, Producers, users, innovators and industry commentators — bloggers, advertisers, writers, analysts and so on — all contribute to the iterative, dynamic process by which a label becomes dominant and is infused with specific meaning. So, get ready to adapt it as you discover how it resonates with people.

Launch new ideas and change the world.

Good luck!


To Make Your Narrative Work, Name It - Part 1
Narrative First