I usually do things in collaboration with others, so I’m more comfortable writing about “us” than “me”. This post by Fritz Grutzner about founding stories makes my think I should step out of my comfort zone to explain how I started a unique collaboration between UK and Nigeria. When I write that post I’ll add the link here, and it will explain how things came about. Meanwhile I’ve taken some quotes from the Fritz Grutzner post and added my italics. He’s writing about companies and their brands, but the message is equally important for Dadamac Foundation, and for the credibility of our innovative work.
Stories Companies Tell: How Internal Stories Build Your Brand
In today’s transparent world, your brand is no longer what you say it is, but rather who you are and how you act. More than ever, strong brands are built from the core and if the leaders at the center of the organization don’t know and live the brand story, how can employees be expected to deliver on it?
Brand cultures operate much like the culture of countries. The French values of liberté, egalité, fraternité, are deeply rooted by heroic stories of the citizens’ fight against aristocratic privilege during the French Revolution. While it is common for these stories to become romanticized, they are all rooted in truth.
The Power Of Foundation Stories
Most great brands have a strong foundation story that reinforces the fundamental purpose of the brand. The accepted Amazon foundation story tells of Jeff Bezos writing the business plan for Amazon on a cross-country trip from New York to Seattle. The story lacks in emotion and a larger purpose.
In contrast, the foundation story of Johnson & Johnson is rooted in caring for people. In 1886, three Johnson brothers built a small factory on the banks of the Raritan River to make the first mass produced sterile surgical dressings and sutures in the United States used on the Navy’s first hospital ship in the Spanish American War.
How These Stories Are Reinforced By Policies And Rituals
Some organizations even ritually re-enact the foundation myth. The Wilderness Society got its start when some of its founders stopped for the night deep in the Appalachian woods outside of Knoxville. They sat around a fire that night to discuss how to save pristine wilderness spaces. Today, when The Wilderness Society has its annual board retreat, the corporate leaders and First Nation chiefs who make up their Governing Council meet around a fire in the wilderness to share personal stories about their experiences in nature in the past year.
These brand stories, rituals and policies become the glue that holds the culture together. Companies trying to build strong brands need to ask themselves:
- What is our foundation story and how does it relate to our culture today?
- What stories do we tell about how we have reacted in times of crisis and what do they say about us?
- What policies or even rituals do we observe to reinforce our core brand story?
For full post see – Brand Quarterly – Stories Companies Tell: How Internal Stories Build Your Brand by Fritz Grutzner