The frogs were coming. And we needed help.
It was 2007, and I was working as the Gallery Programs Coordinator at the Utah Museum of Natural History.
Whenever a special exhibit came through the museum, it was my job to design activities and programs that our volunteers would offer in the galleries.
In this case, the special exhibit involved frogs. Dozens of them. Live. 🐸
Mostly the exotic frogs were off-limits in their special enclosures.
But in addition to the amphibians that came with the exhibit, the education department secured some frogs of our own that our volunteers would be responsible for.
Frogs that we could touch. Frogs visitors could hold.
But we couldn’t just leave our dear frogs in the hands of just anyone. No way. In order to help with the frogs, you needed frog training.
That begged the question: How would we designate the people who had been trained?
What do you call a volunteer who’s frog-qualified, to distinguish them from the ordinary volunteers?
I didn’t know it at the time, but as I wrestled with the question of what to call my frog heroes, I was looking for a key piece of the StoryBrand marketing framework: the identity transformation.
Here’s the idea: In a good story, as in good marketing, “your character is on a journey, and you as the guide are leading them into becoming a better version of themselves,” says the StoryBrand handbook.
“By experiencing success from your tangible offering, your customer will have become more of the person they want to become. Brands that participate in the transformation of their customer’s identities win in the marketplace.”
Helping your customers transform is part of offering a good service or product.
Naming that transformation for them, so they notice it’s happening, is part of good marketing.
Unfortunately, I used to have a hard time getting my clients to name the identity transformation they create for customers. It’s a little slippery as a concept.
“Who does your customer get to become after they do business with you?” I’d ask.
I’d get answers that were useful for our messaging overall, but really more like “success outcomes” than IDENTITY transformation.
Until I remembered the frogs.
See, we ended up making cute little pins that the trained volunteers could wear.
After going through the training, they became someone else. And they got a literal badge to show for it.
In this case, they became a…. [drumroll please]….“Frog Wrangler.” (Cute right? Makes me think of this silly ad. Sorry not sorry.)
Now I think of identity transformation in terms of silly cute little badges.
What badge would your customer get to wear after they work with you?
“Life of the party”
“Responsible loved one”
Name that in a way that resonates, and you’ll help people want to work with you even more.
PS – Want to figure out the exact words to use so customers listen? Join me Sept 13-14 at the StoryBrand marketing livestream event. You’ll learn this framework I’m so obsessed with and get 1:1 coaching from me to make sure you’re getting it right. Scholarships available; applications close on 9/1. Apply now!
This post was originally sent as an email to the Magic Words of the Week newsletter list. Every week, I share reflections on a word, quote, or phrase I think will help you thrive in your life’s work.