The Importance of Your Corporate Story

by Mark Edwards

Having a corporate story is a great way to communicate the key aspects of your business, create an identity for your business and gain “mindshare” from your target customer base.

Stories have been used to communicate for as long as man has inhabitedthe earth; they still have a useful part to play in the digital age as companies strive to create competitive space and differentiation.

What Can Your Company Do For Me?

Over the years, I have captured some positioning statements and sales messages that have caught my eye.  They are not all from the software sector but the points are the same and they nevertheless serve as good examples.

 I came across one a few years back, which I included in a blog post (Clarity of Thinking and Simplicity of Communication) that I feel the need to repeat as it always makes me smile and scratch my head.

"Confused Software Solutions provides software and services for retail and distribution businesses that help them deliver measurable, multi-channel revenue growth by helping businesses implement a step-by-step roadmap to becoming a fully integrated, efficient, omni-channel business through implementation of our integrated back office, retail and eCommerce solutions."

I also came across this little gem on Twitter.This company probably offers a great service but I have no idea what it is. (To protect the innocents,I have changed the name of the company.)

“Clients turn to TotallyLost Associates to capitalize on opportunities and mitigate the challenges of an uncertain future”

As illustrated by the examples above, clarity of communication is critical. I am certain the authors of these two pieces of prose knew precisely what they meant; it’s just the rest of the world that has no idea!

What is your Corporate Story?

Many businesses, both large and small, find it difficult to articulate the fundamental characteristics of their company - such as the products or services they offer and their organisation’s primary purpose. Management teams and employees will often describe their work and the business they work for in entirely different ways.

Lack of a clear and consistent, corporate narrative can create confusion for clients, investors, colleagues, employees and ultimately, potential acquirers of the business as they will all be exposed to differing and  inconsistent stories. Confusion around your company story or narrative can reduce buyer and customer confidence, affect your company's reputation and investor sentiment. It can even affect operational performance and ultimately, diminish the valuation of the company.

Use One Voice to Unite Diverse Audiences

For ambitious businesses to be successful, creating a corporate story is essential. It ensures that all parts of any organisation speak with one voice and in the same tone. Long before the written word became the established norm, storytelling was used to convey information. Stories have been shared verbally and passed down the generations in every culture across the globe as a means of entertainment, education, cultural preservation, and to instil moral & cultural values.  

In the corporate world, a company narrative can unite diverse audiences and create an identity and brand that is instantly recognisable and easily remembered - as opposed to being an instantly forgettable, disjointed inventory of facts. 

The company story should clearly express the purpose of a business, articulate its winning position and create coherence across all communications. Importantly, in creating your company narrative you are simultaneously laying the foundations for successful marketing activity, delivered through campaigns and across multiple channels - to both your internal and external audience.

Identify Your Clear Competitive Space

No business exists in isolation. Rather, every organisation exists in a competitive environment where there is an almost constant battle for attention, customers and positive investor sentiment.

Boss Equity continually scans the software sector in order to better understand how competitor companies in your space communicate their offering. We analyse their strengths and vulnerabilities as well as the opportunities for our clients' businesses.

It’s surprising - or maybe not - that so many companies don’t give these areas of their business much consideration. 

If you follow the industry herd, you will not stand out from your competition.  Sadly, it will also hinder your sales force when you don't make it obvious why a company should choose you over your competitors. To avoid this scenario, you obviously need to know your customers well. It's also essential you communicate with them as clearly, concisely and consistently as possible.