Recently I stumbled upon a well-written book named, “Storytelling: Branding in Practice.” Storytelling is a buzzword in the world of strategy. Unfortunately, though, it is an often-used yet seldom-understood concept. “Branding Through Storytelling” is a helpful “how to” guide to unearthing, sharing and leveraging corporate stories to support brand strategy.
Let’s start with basics. Storytelling is important since by sharing our stories we define “who we are” and “what we stand for.” Granted, storytelling has been around for eons. It is claimed that oral storytelling might be around as long as human language. So, why did it become so famous now? Because we are living in a complex and ever-changing world, in which we all need guideposts. And today, brands act as guidance to complicated issues. Therefore, “brand stories” gradually become synonymous with how we define ourselves as individuals. By choosing certain brands, we associate ourselves with a set of values. In return, by telling stories, brands build a bridge between the company and its customers.
From the standpoint of a company, stories reflect the values of the corporation. They communicate what the brand stands for, not only externally but also internally. And the latter is of particular importance. After all, as the renown organizational thinker Margaret Wheatley says, a value is a field, some sort of an invisible force that shape behaviour. Sadly for many companies, values are nothing but fancy -yet empty- words. They look right on their websites. They sound catchy during their presentations. They add gravitas to their annual reports. But they are merely WORDS. One hears them only to fail to remember them 5 minutes later. As a countermeasure many companies use initialism so that their employees would remember (!) the organization’s values. But storytelling is a much more effective method. Telling a genuine story about “a time when the company walked the talk” could inject real meaning into those “empty words.”
So how do you gather stories? The easiest way is to interview key employees, who have been with the company for a long time. The book also gives you some helpful examples of how large corporations find and unlock stories. It is an easy and fun read. Grab your copy!