Story telling in corporate communications
Stories are captivating for a reason. From childhood through adulthood, we are drawn to the lessons we learn, the exciting journeys we embark upon, the knowledge we gain and the opportunity to unleash our imaginations. Moreover, storytelling is the oldest form of passing knowledge and messages. Nowadays, in the world free of trading information, we human are craving for some mysterious stories behind the products, the companies that we did or just know. Therefore, businesses started using storytelling as an effective marketing tool to reach different stakeholders with many purposes.
Stakeholders here are not only customers (or potential ones), we also aim for investors, followers, employees, etc. It’s hard to create a storytelling product that meets the needs of all types stakeholders but it is not impossible. It’s ART. And now I am learning to maximize the benefits of storytelling in my own company.
What is the aim of corporate storytelling?
Clear understanding of your value proposition
Acceptance of a new product, service or idea
New business leads and sales conversions
Maximum customer retention
Higher revenues and shareholder returns
It’s about getting to the core of an organization’s value proposition, and developing narratives that simply and compellingly relate “the story” to customers, prospects, investors, media, employees and others in a way that motivates them to think or act favorably.
A storytelling is considered as effective when it reaches its objectives and goals, for example:
Gain reputation or admiration due to the story of passing difficulties
Stronger customer relationships due to the story aim to sympathize with audiences, etc.
Besides, it needs to be worthy of attention, be memorable and meaningful, reaches the viewers on an emotional level. People are key of storytelling. They are objectives but also the tools. Stories start from people and deliver it to people. Instead of using boring and soulless content as companies have used, creating something that people want to hear and share, only bring benefits to the firms.
As I mentioned above, storytelling is an ART. It’s hard and complicated sometimes, but we can follow 7 content marketing context questions below before planning, creating a storytelling
What is the story and narrative behind everything you do as a brand, ranging from what you stand for to the reason why you developed solution X or decided to support ‘good cause Y’? How can you get to that story that’s part of your brand and even people’s DNA instead of to just the facts?
How do you actually connect with people in the language they understand best: the language they can “visualize” in a story-like context? And – even further – how do you ‘create’ the stories that will cause a change in behavior or a change of perception?
What types of stories appeal to your content marketing “personas” or – if you want to stay closer to the art of storytelling and human emotions – the different archetypes Jung developed based on his deep psychological insights and…ancient stories?
What about the stories your customers and "audiences" are already telling? How do you listen to those and include them? How can you even come to some form of collaborative storytelling that goes far beyond any reach or goal you imagined?
How much ‘control’ can you realistically have in an age where the value of a brand increasingly is in the eye of the beholder and their social connections? Where perception is more about personality, trust, openness, transparency, relevance and participation? About standing for something as a brand and voicing it in an utterly customer-centric, yet genuine and firm way? How can storytelling – with these shifts in mind – place brands in the minds, hearts and wallets of people? Or in other words: do consumers create stories and brands?
How can you use storytelling in less branding-related ways and in a more demand generation related context ? Are there any differences? Do the same principles apply?
How do you make use of digital information and the user-generated content out there, as well as of all these new ways we have to tell stories in digital storytelling, combining art (creativity) and science (data)?
Tired of reading? Take a look at this interesting infographic about Storytelling.
There are various ways to create a storytelling. But remember, it has to based on the fact (not a fiction). Lack of idea and plots? Please check out the periodic table of storytelling.
Michael Brenner, the CEO of Marketing Insider Group also recommends following this simple 3-step framework to develop compelling, purpose-driven narratives for ones’ brand.
The first step to creating an effective narrative for your brand is to start with “self.” This focuses on explaining how certain events in your life established specific personal values that will later link to your company’s values.
An excellent example is Steve Jobs’ famous Commencement address at Stanford University in 2015. Jobs shared three stories that were largely a personal reflection of his life – his humble working-class upbringing and dropping out of college, founding and later getting fired by Apple, and his cancer diagnosis.
Jobs spoke about how his passion for calligraphy would later guide his design work at Apple, and how his cancer diagnosis encouraged him to live more passionately and authentically as if every day were his last.
What’s so compelling about Jobs’ speech is how real and raw his stories seemed. Each story gave the audience a glimpse into who Jobs was and his values, motivations and passions.
A great story of self has to be authentic and genuine. Finding that story may require a deep reflection on your past and your values, and sharing these personal experiences and moments with your audience.
The second step is what Ganz calls the “us,” which involves connecting your values with broader values shared by your audience. By weaving your personal stories into the experiences, values and passions of others, you create a common narrative for your audience.
A great example of this is the story of Burt’s Bees founder, Burt Shavitz, featured on their company's website. The journey takes us from the time Burt met his partner Roxanne and how the two started the business, to how their story became the “story of us” – of the company, their consumers and products, and the values they shared.
A good “us” story aims to build a community and a set of collective values, and share how these values came about.
The final step is a call to action for your audience who wishes to join in on the purpose of your brand.
Take a look at the way the public-benefit corporation Kickstarter asks potential candidates to join their team. Their narrative begins with the founder Perry Chen sharing his inspiration behind the launch of Kickstarter (the “self”). The next section of the site includes photos and short bits of info about each employee on the Kickstarter team (the “us”). The narrative ends with a call to action on their careers page, asking potential candidates: “Love Kickstarter? You’ll fit right in.” People can click to view all current open positions and apply.
Great brand stories are authentic and real, and collectively work together to build common narratives and values your consumers can relate to, and excite them to join in on your purpose and community.