I was playing with Google Earth and looking at my home (and realizing that some of my neighbors have awfully large pools) when it occurred to me that I was getting a drastically different view when I zoomed in versus when I zoomed out — even just a little bit. The closer I got, the image in the center became more detailed, but less connected to the outlying area.

It’s true of brand stories as well. We’ve all heard the “can’t see the forest for the trees” line, but the truth is that we often see both just fine. The problem is we’re not always good at telling where to place the emphasis at any given time. Should we focus on our patents or our industry standing? Our technology strengths or our vertical knowledge? Our people or our customers? Ourselves or our competitors? (psst, focus on yourself).

There’s a fine balance deciding when to pull out the microscope and when to use telescope — but when managed successfully, we often get the most interesting stories.

What do you see when you take a telescope or microscope to your brand story?

NOTE: From the Wayback Machine. A version of this post first appeared in 2007.