A strategic narrative is an overarching corporate story that an organisation and its audiences can clearly understand, engage with and rally around. A well-formed strategic narrative simplifies everything you do. It enables companies to give its stakeholders a common framework for understanding the organisation, the context in which it operates and the journey it is on. It paints a picture of how the organisation’s past, present, and future fit together in a broader strategic context.
Most companies don’t have a powerful strategic narrative. The smartest, know that motivating teams and engaging with customers and stakeholders starts with telling a good story. Ben Horowitz, cofounder of one of the most influential venture capital firms in Silicon Valley, has said that companies who have failed to articulate their story don't have a clear and well thought out strategy:
So, what are the key benefits of a strategic company narrative and why should you build one?
A strategic narrative helps organisations:
Position the company and build understanding
It enables companies to give its stakeholders a common framework for understanding the organisation, the context in which it operates and the journey it is on. It gives meaning and emphasis to the company strategy and can flex and adapt over time.
Differentiate themselves from competitors
Organisations can use a strategic narrative to highlight the difference between themselves and their competitors, further establishing their prominence with stakeholders.
Unite people behind a common purpose and direction
Many organisations have a complex and differing set of corporate messages. A powerful strategic narrative links these together and paints a picture of how a company’s past, present, and future fit together in a broader strategic context.
Motivate and engage employees
People make sense of the world using stories. A strong strategic narrative is a powerful framework to inspire, drive change and a healthy culture and help employees understand company context and relate it to their own experiences and values.
Build a strong reputation
Key to building a strong reputation is communicating the company story. A powerful narrative helps you connect more deeply to your stakeholders and shape their perception of the organisation. Further, companies with stronger reputations enjoy the benefit of the doubt by stakeholders in a crisis versus those who don’t.
A strategic narrative is a game changer
A strategic narrative tells the story of your business to employees, customers, investors and other stakeholders in a way that drives the business forward. Leading companies embed their narrative internally ensuring their teams fully grasp the company story and purpose and know the part they play. They ensure the narrative is front and centre on their website and social channels. They push it through their products and services and sales and marketing collateral to differentiate them from competitors. They build thought leadership content and ensure their leaders become champions for the story.
A strategic narrative should be pervasive across the company. It should extend beyond the marketing function. It must be viewed as something that’s core to the culture and woven into the fabric of the organization. As Horowitz says, “The mistake people make is thinking the story is just about marketing. No, the story is the strategy. If you make your story better, you make the strategy better."