How Stories Influence Purpose

February 22, 2020

Stories that influence purpose

The art of storytelling isn’t new. It has been the foundation of marketing and advertising since their inception. However, recently, I’ve gained a new appreciation for how stories influence purpose. 

Over the years, I’ve done a lot of writing for executives. This often meant some failed attempts at the onset until I learned how a CEO communicates and became familiar their stories. Learning their particular stories allowed me to bring their experiences and beliefs into what I was writing.

Lately, I find myself coming back to this approach. When I first started working with businesses to define their purpose, I thought once we developed the messaging, leaders would build their stories around it. Now, I’ve realized it’s quite the opposite.

Great leaders have compelling, memorable stories that they share consistently. They have experiences that they relate to the business and influence their vision. These stories should be captured and used to influence brand purpose.

A few tips for using leader stories to influence purpose: 

Every leader has a story. Business owners and chief executives have stories that often shape their vision for the organization. These stories come from experiences that have impacted them in a significant way. Start listening for the ones that you hear repeated.

Don’t expect a leader to change their story. Don’t assume a leader will adopt new messaging and change their stories. Instead figure out what that story means to them and how it relates to the business. These stories have meaning and should remain present.

Understand what the stories mean. Once you know the stories that get repeated, you can start to understand what they mean. Ask yourself what they demonstrate about the business and how they shape the message. Leader stories give credibility to the company’s purpose and foster an emotional connection to it.

Leverage great stories. There’s no coincidence that some of my favorite CEOs are great storytellers. That’s because whether we admit it or not, we still love stories. Find ways to share leader stories across different channels. In my experience, employees are quick to learn them and willing to share them.

If you’re trying to get clear about your purpose or build engagement around purpose, take a step back and find the stories that drive the business. Then, find more ways to share them.




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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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