Future-ready brands: Transitioning from storytelling to story-doing

Published 21 Jul 2021 8 minute read

Future ready
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In the first in our series of #future-ready forums we looked at regenerative brands, what it takes to build one, and the critical transition from storytelling, to story-doing that’s required.

We were fortunate to be joined by Tom Savigar from Avansere, a transformation consultancy specialising in moving enterprise forward to a regenerative and thriving state.
Describing the journey from storytelling to story-doing, Further Research Director, Nigel Roth, explained the five stages that we at Further help brands to recognise as we help prepare them to become future-fit:

Describing the journey from storytelling to story-doing, Further Research Director, Nigel Roth, explained the five stages that we at Further help brands to recognise as we help prepare them to become future-fit:

  1. Understanding the emerging reality - and knowing where the brand sits within it
  2. Piercing insights – the inconvenient truths that emerge when we explore the new reality
  3. System 1.5 decision making – more conscious decision-making, but not System 1 or System 2 alone.
  4. Story-doing - brands must transition from just storytelling, from having a great brand narrative, to actually putting the right behaviours into practice
  5. Response triggers – communicating more authentically

During the forum, Tom talked about how brands can move beyond a focus on sustainability – doing no harm – to become regenerative and having not just a neutral position but a positive impact. This goes beyond the environment to encompass the impact on consumers, employees, the supply chain and the general public.

As we highlighted in our previous blog, the journey from a degenerative to a regenerative brand requires company-wide systemic change - it's not for the faint-hearted.

But while the journey may be long and hard, for those organisations and their leaders willing to commit, it may be their best chance of survival. And one of the significant building blocks will be the skills and focus needed for stage four, transitioning from storytelling to story-doing.

What is story-doing?

We’ve written about the connection between insight and storytelling for a long time. In our work, we see the value for brands of truly understanding what makes their consumers laugh and cry so that the brand narrative is one that customers can identify deeply with.

It’s no longer enough to just have a good story. Brands have to live that story, in everything they do, at every stage of the value chain. It’s not enough to say that you are an inclusive brand when your board comprises only straight, cis-gender, non-disabled, middle-aged, middle-class white men.

It’s not enough to say that you are a sustainable brand if your suppliers are polluters.

There are many examples of brands getting this very wrong. For example, there has been a backlash in Pride month against brands who are jumping on the bandwagon – telling an LBTGQ+ rights story – whilst not doing anything to support LBTGQ+ rights. Big box brands such as Walmart and Target in the US have come under fire for ‘rainbow capitalism’: cashing in without making any real systemic changes.

Remember: just because a company slapped on a rainbow, doesn’t mean they support the LGBT+ community

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Consumers can smell this sort of inauthenticity a mile off, even if brands think they are doing a great job. Recent research shows that whereas 92% of marketers think their content resonates, consumers rate only 51% of brands’ content as authentic.

The problem here is likely to be storytelling that doesn’t go as far as story-doing. In contrast, Tom gave the example of Tesla pulling out of Bitcoin due to concerns about the use of fossil fuels.

You only have to look at what Tesla did by pulling out of Bitcoin about two weeks ago, because of the fact that Bitcoin, when it's mined is incredibly energy intensive and that just doesn't make sense for a vehicle brand like Tesla. So you start to see about the importance of brands making swift decisions, by the way that they talk… But it doesn't just stop there. “Okay, we talk the talk, is that enough?" No, it's not. We have to also walk the walk.

Tom Savingar, Avensere

The concept of authenticity is part of the future-ready brand journey. But one of the challenges that brands have had over the last ten years, is that they are trying to be authentic rather than actually just being themselves. If a brand can move on to story -doing, from just talking the talk, they can get to a place where they can just be themselves; that is an authentic place to be without having to try.

To find out more about how we help brands to be future-ready please do get in touch.

 

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