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It’s not how good you are. It’s how well you tell your story.



Welcome to 3 Things You Can Use, where Maddi and I decode self-improvement and entrepreneurship through books, three things at a time. This week’s book is The Fortune Cookie Principle: The 20 Keys to a Great Brand Story and Why Your Business Needs One by Bernadette Jiwa.


With social media, the internet and instant accessibility all around, people are easier to reach, but harder to engage. The game has changed and fighting for market share against companies with huge marketing budgets takes wit, craft and emotion.

Bernadette, the author, says that branding used to be about being top of mind, but now it’s about being close to heart and this book will show you how to get there.


So, what are three things we can use from this book?


3 Things You Can Use


1. The Fortune Cookie Principle

The Fortune Cookie Principle:

“The cookie is the commodity, the utility, the tangible product, the cookies the thing that you put in the shop window and it has a fixed value. Then there is the fortune. The magical intangible part of the product or service, which is where the real value lies in the hearts and minds of the customer. The fortune is the story, the thing that makes people feel something. The real reason they buy the product in the first place. It’s your purpose, vision and values manifested (…)

People don’t buy fortune cookies because they taste better than every other cookie on the shelf. They buy them for the delight that they deliver at the end of the meal. Marketers spend most of their times selling the cookie, what they really should be doing is finding a way to create a better fortune.”

Without a story, you are just another commodity.

Bernadette says that, “crafting a brand story is not simply about the need to stand out and get noticed, it’s also about building something people care about. Brand storytelling is about standing for something and striving for excellence in everything your business does (…) it’s about thinking beyond the functionality of products and services, and creating a sense of loyalty and meaningful bonds with your customers.

It’s the foundation of your brand and a strategy for future growth.”

Great brands are the ones that tell the best stories.

Customers don’t demonstrate loyalty to a commodity, but they do demonstrate loyalty to a great brand.

Branding is about the feelings that people get when they interact with your brand.

What do people associate with you?

How does someone seem when they share something from your brand? Intelligent? Environmentally conscious? Funny?



Imagine two different stories here from two different turtle aquariums.

1. Hi. Buy our turtles. With each purchase, you fund another expedition to steal happy turtles away from their homes to put in aquariums to sell to other dumb customers like you.


2. Every turtle we sell was rescued from somewhere inhabitable and fed back to good health. With every purchase you help to fund eye surgery for blind turtles in the wild.

Turtles being equal, which company would you buy from?

If your brand isn’t loved, it’s replaceable.


2. How to Craft a Brand

How do you want people to feel when they buy your fortune cookie and look at their fortune?

There are 20 elements, or keys, that influence and are influenced by your brand.

You can start with a story and then fit it to each element, or you can look at each element and try to craft a story that fits.

But, instead of listing all 20 keys and delving into the minutia right away, you can go about it the smart way first by breaking it all down into four fundamentals:

What is the truth, purpose, values and vision of your company?

The truth has to do with answering the tough question of, “what do your customers really want?”

When Pampers we’re being outdone by the cheaper brand, Huggies, they put out marketing campaigns pointing out how much better their materials were… but it was a no go.Huggies was still stealing market share. It only turned around when Pampers started putting baby progress charts on their boxes with baby suggestions. Now the company was selling the experience of a brand that cares along with the useful ol’ diapers. That’s what people wanted.

Purpose and values. You won’t thrive in shark market without purpose and values anymore. Purpose and values translate to feeling. People are numb to bright advertisements and sales-speech. Having a mission and caring are the currency in today’s marketing market.

Think of the turtle example before. You assumably prefered the turtle aquarium company that made a difference.

And finally vision. What’s the worldview that you stand for and are fighting for? What do you intend to do/ What will change if your company has it’s way?

Putting this all together, we can craft a great story for the beloved turtle aquarium above.

What’s the truth of our turtle company? People want a turtle aquarium brand that makes people feel good about caring for and about turtles.

What the purpose and values of our turtle company? Rescuing turtles and reviving the eyesight of blind turtles. Having turtle values.

And the obvious vision of, no more stranded, starving or blind turtles.

Leaving us with a turtle aquarium branding story that writes itself:

“Turtles are People too.”


3. Your Brand’s Perspective

Though, this might all be hard to apply in a vacuum, going by just principles and anecdotes.

So Bernadette ends each chapter with questions to ask yourself that help to frame the principles in a way to apply to your brand while giving you an outside perspective at your brand’s story.


How do your customers want to feel? What do you want them to associate with your brand? Think along the lines of emotion and value here.

What can u do that nobody else can do? How are you unique? Could you remove your logo and replace it with a competitor’s?

Do your values come across in your business? How does your team uphold the vision and values of your company? How do your processes and procedures make your customers feel along this line?


Are you making your customers feel part of something?Does your brand have a purpose that brings customers together as a community?

Who’s your ideal customer? What does one person say to another to recommend your brand?

How do your customers feel about telling their friends about your brand? What does their loyalty to your brand allow customers to say and feel about themselves?

So not only are these questions to think about but they’re also bowling bumpers that help you to make sure that your story hits all the pins.



There are two fundamental parts to a business, the cookie and the fortune.

Align your story with your brand’s truth, purpose, values and vision, for a great foundation in today’s market.

Ask yourself the right questions to avoid the gutters and potentially get a strike.


This book frames “storytelling branding” though every facet of business, from values to distribution to naming to community, plus 16 more…

Each chapter is a principle or branding facet of business that is supported by a few real world anecdotes, and every chapter is finished with a few questions that help you to apply the principles yourself.

I got this book after I heard it recommended by Seth Godin and it fits perfectly with the marketing paradigm that he preaches.

It’s a really helpful book for anyone who wants to know where to start, or for anyone who is producing and trying to sell but can’t seem to get any traction.

That’s all for this one!

Thank you for watching, if you’re not subscribed, make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss next week’s video, and –

we’ll see you next week!


Want to Read it?

Audible Free Trial (get this book for free!)

The Fortune Cookie Principle (Audible Version)

The Fortune Cookie Principle (Physical Copy)

(These links give me a little bump if you decide to use them. Thank you!)




  • Punching Sounds by: Mike Koenig
  • Reading Photo at end of video by: Marketa