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Tower Your Narrative

The story you tell can be what makes or breaks your initiative. A compelling narrative about your product can create loyalty in customers and deepen investment from stakeholders. Sometimes, the best story to tell isn’t what you are doing that is circular, but actually just what you are doing that makes your product a better experience.

STEPS

Revisit your Brand Promise. Think about the emotional qualities you want your brand to evoke for customers and the message you will use to make that resonate. Empathize with internal audiences.

Consider how your circular product or service links to core business drivers such as

  • Thinking beyond the product to develop new added value customer services (e.g. new models or ownership, personalisation or repair services)
  • Becoming more adaptive to customer needs
  • Becoming more collaborative as an organisational culture and less siloed
  • Capturing more value by closing the loop and re-using materials
  • Addressing risks in the business model around resource use
  • Activating your brand purpose

Create a storyboard that helps you think about the message you want to share with your audience. Try to answer the following questions, but feel free to play with the order. Does it start with a big, lofty challenge statement or does it start with a small story of a person’s life? That’s up to you!

  • What’s the challenge you are trying to solve?
  • What’s your innovation? (keep this simple – don’t try to over explain)
  • Why is this important/relevant? (what’s new or changing because of this?)
  • What insights brought you to this solution?
  • How will this change your customers’ lives in some way?
  • What story or stories support this?

Think carefully about your use of words – what emotions are you trying to stimulate? Are you telling a story that others can buy into? 

As you construct your story, try to be as specific as you can and use empathetic language.

Most importantly, pick a focus and create a ‘through-line’ to your story. Once you have the components in place, think about how you would tell this story to someone over drinks, or to your grandmother. Is it relatable? Does it hold up outside of your industry and context?

Create Brand Promise

Brand purpose is emerging as one of the drivers of customer engagement. Increasingly, people are making decisions based on an emotional connection to a particular brand. Reinforcing your brand through a circular innovation strategy is one way to build customer loyalty, but finding the right messaging is key. What are the underlying benefits to customers that will drive their emotional response and attachment?

  • Write down your circular opportunity or concept. Ask yourself, based on your brand promise and your customers’ values, how should this initiative make them feel? What are the emotional qualities that your product brings when they buy or use it? (For example, do they want to feel empowered, safe, altruistic, inspired, etc.?)
  • Next, capture the messages that would appeal to your audience to make them feel invested in this concept. What matters most to them? Your goal is to figure out how to make your circular initiative feel relevant in a way that relates to their values.
  • Consider what this circular opportunity or innovation could add back into the brand promise – what might it refresh or emphasize? Also, consider how your promise might play out to other partners or users in the value chain.

Continuous Learning Loops

Design is continuous with the circular economy. That’s why it’s important to create feedback cycles and learn from the input you get along the way. This will help you use the feedback you are collecting to explore the next steps to iterate your design and continue to add value to your business and the system as a whole.

STEPS

  • Review your progress against the feedback you set out to collect in Embed Feedback Mechanisms as well as your overall strategy in the Business Model Canvas.
  • Start by asking whether you have achieved what you set out to do. Have you been able to find answers to the questions you posed?
  • Synthesise this feedback by looking for patterns and insights about what you are learning. How has what you are learning shifted your thinking?

Use a flowchart to answer these types of questions

  • Do you need to change the feedback mechanism?
  • Is it giving you data that is of value or are you wasting time collecting some of that information?
  • What do you need to do to alter your product or service to ensure it’s bringing business value to you, and adding value to the system as a whole?
  • How might you make your product/service better, not just for the consumer, but other users in the value chain?
  • Is your product or service breaking down from a usability or technical standpoint? Does anything need to be adapted for it to work better?
  • What will your next intervention be? Will you be scaling the same model or looking to increase your influence by expanding to different loops in the system?
  • Return to methods in the Define section and develop an action plan for scaling.

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