brand story & messaging, storytelling

Storytelling in action: 4 companies to emulate

Sandra Stewart | May 7, 2015

We’ve isolated the five essential elements of a great corporate story in a handy infographic. We’ve written about how to dig deep to come up with the elements that will make your story sing. But is that enough? No. Because what brings a concept to life is examples, examples, and more examples.

With that in mind, I went hunting for examples of each element done right in the stories of fellow B Corps and sustainable businesses.

1. Inspiration: What sparked the founding of the business? Who was involved and what motivated them? What problem were they trying to solve? What was their vision and mission?

Warby Parker executes this element with simplicity and humor, in a story and a voice that connects with its markets. Their story begins, “Every idea starts with a problem. Ours was simple: glasses are too expensive.” Read the rest.

2. Challenges: What challenges did the founders overcome to build the business? What did they do to overcome them?

Patagonia handles challenges with its characteristically unflinching honesty, by describing growing pains in the company’s history, ending with this note: “We laid off 20% of our work force–many of them friends and friends of friends. And we nearly lost our independence as a company. That taught us a major lesson. We have kept growth—and borrowing—to a modest scale ever since.” Read the rest.

3 & 4. Claims to fame and accomplishments: What makes you stand out? What’s your most remarkable asset? What have you achieved with the business? To what extent have you addressed the inspirational problem?

Ben and Jerry’s addresses its accomplishments and causes in a lighthearted, slightly goofy way in its perfectly on-brand timeline. Here’s an entry from the early days: “Ben and Jerry are named ‘U.S. Small Business Persons of the Year’ by President Reagan in a White House Rose Garden ceremony. Jerry’s one suit comes in handy and, luckily, Ben finds an Italian waiter’s jacket to wear.” Read the rest.

5. Vision: What’s next? What are you shooting for? What keeps people involved in the business?

Clif Bar nails this element in its company story, which makes a big statement, “Clif Bar’s vision always has been to do business in a better way” and then illustrates throughout the story exactly what the company has done to live up to that vision. (The Clif Bar story is also a great example of how to write about your company’s inspiration.) Read it here.

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