What Is the Value of Corporate Storytelling?
It is natural for organizations to be skeptical about the value of investing in corporate storytelling. After all, the term has become an increasingly common buzzword in marketers’ and content strategists’ vocabularies—but to ignore its potential would be a missed opportunity. Storytelling serves two vital functions for any organization: it creates internal alignment around the core purpose of your business (both holistically and as it relates to specific actions and initiatives undertaken), and it bolsters the ability of your brand to connect with customers authentically.
A powerful brand can become a driving force for positive, transformative change in the lives of internal and external audiences alike. Corporate storytelling gives meaning to the seemingly disparate activities that businesses engage in every day, from major initiatives such as mergers and acquisitions to incremental changes to organizational structure and internal processes. The goal of corporate storytelling is to establish context for why and how these decisions are made and present the rationale in a clear, compelling and cohesive way.
Your brand cannot tell an authentic story to customers without first achieving internal alignment—and that story must flow organically outward from your purpose. Purpose imbues real meaning behind the work that employees do every day. Any new onboarding or alignment initiative should help reinforce that story by clearly outlining core values and expected behaviors, with examples of how those actions ripple across the organization in service of the greater purpose.
At its highest level, articulate corporate storytelling also gives consumers a clear “reason to believe” in the brand. Consumers are also more likely to purchase from companies that they perceive as having a positive impact on the world—even if the purchase cost is higher.* This same philosophy extends to employees, too; when individuals genuinely understand, believe in and contribute to a shared purpose, they are more likely to be happy, productive and invested in their work. They are also more likely to become driven brand ambassadors outside their official duties, creating organic sales and recruitment opportunities.
Hinge: The App That’s Designed to Be Deleted
Hinge is the dating app that’s “designed to be deleted.” While this storytelling hook may seem counterintuitive from a business standpoint, it is a deeply ingrained aspect of Hinge’s differentiating purpose and core philosophy. To achieve its aim of helping young people find meaningful, long-lasting relationships, Hinge has sought different metrics for success than competitors such as Tinder or OkCupid, specifically shifting its focus from user engagement and time in-app to customer success, i.e., the point in a committed relationship that renders the app obsolete.
Images are copyright of Hinge.
To help bring this story to life, Hinge created a digital brand book that guides stakeholders through the company’s history and core purpose—and strongly reinforces that purpose through company culture and tangible employee benefits. As a sign of commitment to Hinge’s purpose of “making dates great,” employees are given a monthly stipend to go out on dates themselves and access to other incentive programs that promote happy and healthy living.
The more comprehensive and consistent the corporate narrative becomes, the more powerful and engaging it is for its audience. An easily communicable, engaging corporate story delivered consistently across every touchpoint will allow you to assume greater ownership over internal and external perceptions of your brand. In other words, it gives external audiences a strong understanding of the business and its purpose—and it gives employees a reason to believe in their work—and to share their passion with the world.