Use Your Corporate Story to Connect

As a leader, you want for your company to be remembered and intuitively connected with value. Your team of writers and communicators can help you tell the corporate story, but using personal anecdotes and elements of emotion will help you connect in a meaningful way.

Droning on about sales figures, new products or the leadership team makes for a dull story. So how do companies connect and engage with their customers, partners, employees – anyone who is important to success – with communications? You can’t take your audience’s engagement for granted. You have to earn it. A good corporate story can do just that.

This fascinating Techcrunch post on how the brain responds to storytelling supports the idea that an audience will become activated by narrative. Think about it: would you rather listen to a story or hear a list? Scott Weiss, a former B2B CEO, discussed in this post how authenticity goes a long way with stakeholders. If you’re open about your story – how you got here, what worked, what didn’t – your audience will respond with interest and trust.

On his personal blog, George Colony, CEO of the global research firm Forrester, distills timely news and industry developments that create meaningful takeaways for his readers. But on a deeper level, he’s showing that he and the company have a clear understanding of the industries they serve. Colony’s bio on the site, which refers to him by his first name and creates a friendly, approachable tone, is another way the reader is allowed to see the executive as a person with a story.

Furthermore, what your organization does and how it operates, the company’s culture and character are parts of the story that differentiate you from others. Who manages the corporate stories of model successful companies like Apple and IBM? Company leadership does.

Steve Jobs developed an iconic story of Apple’s journey. Currently, Apple CEO Tim Cook focuses the story on how the company’s shift in leadership brings significant change for its present and future, connecting the Jobs legacy with a bright outlook. In a Bloomberg Businessweek article, Cook discusses his freshman year as CEO, which is now woven into the fabric of the Apple corporate story.

After celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2011, IBM has transformed its corporate story yet again – the first transformation being from a product to a service business – to align with its first female CEO, Ginni Rometty. She told her story to help emphasize how IBM is creating new markets to sell to, as well as showcasing its innovation within technology.

Are you managing your corporate story so that everyone in the company has the same anecdotes, milestones and tools to pass along the same narrative?

Some elements of your corporate story might include:

  • Relate to the audience. Create an emotional connection between you as a senior leader and the topic you are discussing.
  • Provide a behind-the-scenes perspective to show how a big and innovative idea comes to life.
  • Use an important industry or company milestone as a point of connection with your audience.
  • Provide a relatable and achievable call to action.

The panelists on a recent Chicago Ideas Week session on the art of storytelling (video)  argued, “Great stories stand at the center of how we remember the past and what we hope for in the future.”

A compelling corporate story that builds on a legacy into the future is part of a smart business strategy.


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