“A company without a story is a company without a strategy”. -- Ben Horowitz
We couldn’t agree more.
Having a clear and distinctive story is critical in the socially dynamic business world today. More so, as Covid makes greater demands on companies-- to redefine their customer experience, keep employees engaged while pivoting to new business models.
A story-led approach acts as a compass—to guide decision making, orient priorities, rally teams and anchor the public and investor narrative.
Yet there’s a distinction to be made between broadcasting your story i.e. storytelling and living your story i.e. storydoing.
In a world where actions speak louder than words, placing your story at the centre of your business and organizing around it makes the difference between a good company and a great one.
- Storydoing companies start with a quest.
They don’t follow the latest consumer trend or try to outpace the known competition. They imagine their future based on their quest -- a narrative that becomes a blueprint for organizing the company -- unifying all stakeholders across touchpoints.
Take Jio Platforms. The company’s purpose is to uplift the lives of all Indians for the better through the ability to transact digitally for their daily needs. The brand touches every aspect of life and runs a suite of services from music streaming to payments. Such singular purpose has helped them attract sizeable new investments from Facebook, Silver Lake and Vista Equity to bring millions of kirana stores into Jio's digital ecosystem.
- The CEO sets the tone.
No leader can afford to be indifferent to the challenge of engaging employees every day in the work of creating the future. Engagement may have been optional in the past, but it is the whole game today.
At a time when the travel and tourism industry has been effectively shut down by Covid, Airbnb CEO, Brian Chesky’s letter to employees addressed the tough calls he had to take to refocus the business while laying off 25% of the company. For a brand whose mission is centred around belonging, genuine effort was made to continue watching out for people exiting.
- Story is built into company culture.
You can copy a product but you can’t copy culture. Great companies not so much as tell their stories as live their story. This is expressed through every action: products and services, how they reward people, how they engage customers and the wider community. As a result, they are nimbler, more efficient, and tougher competitors than their peers.
Nike’s response to Covid reflects their purpose: to bring inspiration and innovation to the athlete in all of us. The company developed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the form of full-face shields for hospitals. It donated thousands of pairs of shoes to healthcare workers as a way of thanking them for their incredible physical and mental resilience in caring for impacted communities. And offered its subscription-based service of more than 185 online workouts for free in the U.S. to keep people physically active while stuck at home.
Story-doing companies typically spend less on paid media, are mentioned more on social media, have better financial performance and enjoy higher valuations than their story-telling peers.
As we start to build a new future, strategies without stories can't accomplish much. Together, they can make all the difference.