Story

What do you know about the history of Apple? That it was founded by 2 nerds in a garage? That they stood up to corporate behemoths like IBM and kicked their butt? That Apple prospered by giving people well-designed, cutting edge products? That their products reflect what people want?

Great story.

What you may or may not have heard is that, before Apple was even formed, Steve Jobs cheated Steve Wozniak out of money. Or that Wozniak was content to hang out with Apple's user groups and refine their existing computers rather than work on the Mac. Or that Jobs didn't bathe. Or that Apple has had just as many failures as successes. Or that they have a long history of treating their Customers like crap.

Because of social media, you don't have control over your message any more. It can be argued that you never did - that basic fact is just more visible now. But because of that, it is vital that you deliver content that resonates, so that your Customers become advocates. Because there's nothing people like better than a good story.

Did your company actually start in a garage? Great! Do you have photos of those days? Put'em on your press page. Got some funny anecdotes? Get those puppies out there. Remember your first big win against a bigger competitor? Tell it. What do you believe in your heart of hearts? Strip out all of the marketing-speak and say it as simply as possible.

Become a storyteller.

A great story is the difference between Apple and IBM. Do you know IBM's story? Of course not - nobody does! (And if you do, you need to get out more. Life awaits.)  But you might know Ben & Jerry's story, or Thomas Edison's, or Alexander Graham Bell's.

Granted, large parts of those stories aren't true, and there are bad sides to every tale, but that's not what people remember - give them the right ingredients, and they will believe. (Disney knows this to its bones; their whole business model is about telling this story over and over again. Only the names and costumes change.) I'm not saying lie - if you do, in this day and age, you will absolutely be found out. I'm saying deliver the ingredients that make your story sticky, so that people want to tell it:


  1. Was your founder a maverick? People like underdogs. Even better if you had 2 founders who are/were pals.
  2. Did your founder come up with a brilliant and original idea that was just common sense applied to a market need? The trend may be against intellectuals, but common sense sells.
  3. Did your company go up against a bigger, more powerful rival and win? We all love a good fight - especially if it's long and involves hard work and sacrifice.
  4. Do you employ a lot of people? If you treat your employees well, say so. People like to think of the companies that they like as big, benevolent families. If that's what your organization is, people will love you for it.
The basics don't change, of course - you still have to deliver great and timely service and communicate perfectly - but story builds goodwill, and belief can often buy you the benefit of the doubt (even if your grammar is poor).

Tell your tale. Keep it simple. Keep it concise. Keep it clear.

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