Having a narrative is highly important, especially if your company is new and still growing. However, if you’re still confused about how to shape your narrative or you don’t know where to start, our suggestion is to go back to your belief. Ask yourself: what do you believe in? The narrative that is based on a belief will give a sense of purpose. It can also make all the difference in the world.
Take Apple for example. Their narrative was condensed into the slogan “think different” based on Steve Jobs’ belief to challenge the status quo. In his TED Talk, Simon Sinek told the audience if Apple were like everyone else, their narrative would be: “We make great computers. They’re beautifully designed, simple to use, and user-friendly. Want to buy one?”
Instead, Apple framed it like this:
“Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use, and user friendly. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?”
The difference between the former and the latter is subtle but important. The latter works because Apple put the emphasis on their narrative. They explained what they believe in; their ‘why’, i.e., the belief behind what they’re doing.
This narrative is also front and center in Apple’s current vision statement under the leadership of Tim Cook, who stated the following:
“We believe that we are on the face of the earth to make great products and that’s not changing. We are constantly focusing on innovating. We believe in the simple not the complex. We believe that we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products that we make, and participate only in markets where we can make a significant contribution. We believe in saying no to thousands of projects, so that we can really focus on the few that are truly important and meaningful to us. We believe in deep collaboration and cross-pollination of our groups, which allow us to innovate in a way that others cannot. And frankly, we don’t settle for anything less than excellence in every group in the company, and we have the self-honesty to admit when we’re wrong and the courage to change.”
The phrase “we believe” came up five times. Apple shaped its narrative based on its belief and infused it into its vision. This helps to set the strategic objectives for different areas of computer technology, consumer electronics, online digital distribution services, cloud computing, and semiconductors business.
What we learned from Apple is your narrative should be based on your belief: what you and your company stand for. It gives you a sense of purpose. When you tell this to your audience (be it your own employees or your customers), this will speak to the emotional part of their brain. It connects you with them and vice versa. Once this connection is formed, your narrative will no longer be exclusively yours, it becomes shared: a shared narrative.
Others were saying . . .
- The Science of Why — “Every organization — and every person’s career — operates on three levels: what we do, how we do it, and why we do it. We all know what we do: the products we sell, the services we offer or the jobs we do. Some of us know how we do it: the things that we think make us different or stand out from the crowd. But very few of us can clearly articulate why we do what we do. The WHY is the purpose, cause, or belief that drives every organization and every person’s individual career. Why does your company exist? Why did you get out of bed this morning? And why should anyone care?”
- The Untapped Potential of Corporate Narratives — “In a world characterized by an expanding array of options competing for attention, a powerful narrative can differentiate — it can help a company to stand out from the crowd in a powerful and sustainable way. Narratives are by definition a long-term, sustaining call to action.”
- How Emotions Influence What We Buy — “Another important foundation for a brand’s emotions can be found in its “narrative” — the story that communicates “who” it is, what it means to the consumer, and why the consumer should care. This narrative is the basis for brand advertising and promotion.”