Purposeful Storytelling

April 5, 2019

Purposeful Story-telling

Storytelling has always been important for businesses and a backbone of marketing. Jump back to the big ad days when companies used stories to paint a picture of life with a certain product or service. Stories took on new meaning with the internet and then social media. Brands had to work quickly to embrace new mediums to share their stories and seek real-time engagement.

When I look ahead, I see storytelling evolving further into a representation of what a brand believes and a way to share their purpose with a savvy and more influential audience. Some brands are already there, think Nike’s “Dream Crazier” and Gillette’s “We Believe.” 

Despite its evolution, storytelling remains an important way for organizations to build relationships with current and new audiences. Yet, some organizations are still only skimming the surface when it comes to story-telling. 

So, how can a brand share more meaningful stories and know if they’re getting it right? I believe it is combination of purpose, listening and consistency. 

1. Know Your Message: The value of defining your company’s purpose is that you have a clear and succinct message. While that may seem limiting on the surface, knowing your story builds consistency, creates authenticity which builds trust, and offers you a solid and consistent starting point.

2. Listen:Once you’ve developed your purpose, try assembling a mental or written glossary of supporting messages. Soundbites, phrases or experiences can build your story and be used over and over across channels. If you’re not sure what these are, start listening to the people around you. Jot down interesting soundbites or phrases whenever you hear them and find ways to turn them into stories. 

3. Establish a Visual Identity: Stories are also visual. For me, purpose starts with the message and builds toward a unique look and feel. I love working with designers, photographers and videographers to create imagery that builds an emotional connection to purpose.

4. Tell the Same Story: This is the fun part. Start sharing your purpose and keep sharing it. This doesn’t mean blast the same content everywhere. The exact opposite – be creative. Find different ways to tell the same story. 

Try It

To help get you thinking of new ways to engage in more purposeful storytelling, I put together some suggestions based on what I’ve been doing to help my clients share their stories. 

  • Interview your employees and customers.Use their experiences to tell your story from a different perspective.
  • Write an open letter or share a letter to employees or customers. This has been a really powerful way to introduce purpose. There’s something intimate and personal about letter-writing. 
  • Share research, trends or articlesthat support or align with your purpose.
  • Ask people to define your purpose or mission in their words.On one of the podcasts I follow, the interviewer always ends by asking each guest to define the same term. It’s really interesting to hear how each person defines it slightly different and how she connects their response back to her purpose. 
  • Share the inside scoop. Go behind the scenes and talk about what is happening inside the organization. 
  • Get personal and have fun. This is my favorite piece of advice. Real experiences, personal stories, advice, quotes and inspiration build connection to the brand.

Do you have more examples or other suggestions for building more meaningful stories? Drop them in the comments. I would love to check them out.




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Karen Bailey is a brand purpose consultant and specializes in helping companies define their purpose and align their business around it. In 2017, she launched the blog, Purpose Greater Than Profit, to start a meaningful conversation about the increasingly important role of brand purpose, purposeful leadership and a better way of doing business.


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