Good corporate storytelling can be a differentiator for brands. But what is corporate storytelling, and what’s a corporate storyteller? After all, telling a company’s authentic brand story and sharing its thought leadership. In crowded markets, whoever tells the best and most relevant stories wins.
This is especially true in a world of copycats.
In this article, I cover the following:
- What is corporate storytelling?
- Storytelling: A differentiator
- How to story tell for bigger and smaller companies
- Corporate storytelling across an organization
- Scaling corporate storytelling
What is corporate storytelling?
Corporate storytelling is the art and science of sharing a company’s stories appropriately and through the most relevant channels.
A corporate storyteller, then, is a person who helps the company tell its stories wide and far. At times, they come in the form of ghostwriters.
Anyone can be a corporate storyteller in their own way, but some corporate storytellers live on the marketing team to scale the strategy.
Two companies: Same product, different stories
Let me give you an example. I signed up for one software product a few years ago and have used it ever since. On most days, actually. How did I know about them? They were always in front of me and told a good story about what they did. Other times, they showed up in my feed with relevant related content.
They were top of mind when I was ready to buy and sign up for a subscription. Thanks to their ongoing and persistent, but not annoying corporate storytelling.
Now, a competitor out there tells a very different corporate story. I don’t know who copied who here, but the product looks nearly identical. But the company’s story didn’t appeal to me.
same similar product. Different stories. I chose and gave my money to the company with the better story. What’s the better story in the eye of the beholder?
One overarching pillar in corporate storytelling is the muscle memory of implementing the strategy. The more a company shares good stories, the more it becomes second nature; when that happens, it can lead to business results.
Corporate storytelling – bigger vs. smaller companies
A single person can share stories – on a lot of levels. The more people are added to the mix, the more stories keep growing – in theory, at least. Larger organizations can share more stories because there are more people.
But larger organizations can also get bogged down in more processes. There’s an increased chance for potential for unnecessary approval processes or mindsets not yet open to corporate storytelling across an organization. Some questions to consider to enable authentic storytelling in an organization:
- Can stories be shared quickly and efficiently?
- Is the organization/leadership open to sharing stories through blogs, social media, etc.?
- Can stories be thoughtful and in-depth and go beyond marketing buzzwords?
Moving forward together
Storytelling becomes more complex or more likely depending on an organization’s answers. But, yes, storytelling is scalable. A content performance culture does help.
Draw on your professional content creators and other employees, and external partners to make this a success.
Also, great corporate storytellers look at new ways and channels to tell business stories – including VR.
Corporate storytelling across an organization
Organizational storytelling happens when people associated with the organization recognize, call out, document, and then share stories publicly. Stories help businesses (and communities) when authentic, meaningful, and conveyed believably.
In this setup, employees organization-wide share stories through agreed-upon channels to help the organization share stories authentically, consistently, and constantly. Some people call these guardrails. In addition, the company provides guardrails on how to participate in corporate storytelling.
In a well-running corporate storytelling setup:
- Employees are empowered to share their stories.
- It’s encouraged and explicitly endorsed by leadership.
- As a result, employees want to share their organizational stories. They feel connected and can’t wait to share their success stories.
That’s when we see people, including on the sales, customer success, and marketing teams, build their brands while advancing the corporate story.
Technology and corporate storytelling
Technology can help. The easier the technology is to use, the easier it will be for people to focus on storytelling instead of the barriers that technology presents.
We only have so much brain power to focus on different things, so the more we can think about authentic storytelling. Instead of figuring out how to get the story published on the website, the more likely our storytelling strategy is to succeed.
Steve Jobs, the late Apple CEO, famously wore the same clothes every day so he wouldn’t have to think about what to wear and could use that brain power on other things – like inventing the iPhone, for example. This also applies to content creation. The easier we make that process, the better the stories. That includes using technology that is easy to use.
How to scale corporate storytelling
As Paul Furiga said on “The Business Storytelling Show,” it does start with leadership. Leaders in the organization need to agree on why the company exists, what problem it’s trying to solve and then move forward and tell that story in multiple ways. That certainly includes stories about the product and content around establishing the company as a thought leader.
Start with the agreement, get on a schedule, and keep sharing and engaging on all the channels that matter.