The Business Case for Storydoing
Perspectives > Blog Post

The Business Case for Storydoing

September 12, 2013

Allison Slotnick

“Do as I say, not as I do” has long been a popular mantra to indicate the importance we all place on our words, rather than our actions. Many brands have followed suit and long lived by this adage, emphasizing the importance of an engaging and carefully worded narrative to inform consumers about what their brand stands for. And while such a narrative can be a successful tactic, shoppers are becoming increasingly savvy and seeing through the words. In fact, a recent Harvard Business Review article proves that in today’s competitive marketplace, brands that take their stories to the next level—by putting them into action and evolving into “storydoers”—ultimately see stronger business results by building a more loyal base of brand advocates.

“Do as I say, not as I do” has long been a popular mantra to indicate the importance we all place on our words, rather than our actions.  Many brands have followed suit and long lived by this adage, emphasizing the importance of an engaging and carefully worded narrative to inform consumers about what their brand stands for.  And while such a narrative can be a successful tactic, shoppers are becoming increasingly savvy and seeing through the words.  In fact, a recent Harvard Business Review article proves that in today’s competitive marketplace, brands that take their stories to the next level—by putting them into action and evolving into “storydoers”—ultimately see stronger business results by building a more loyal base of brand advocates.

So, what exactly is ‘storydoing’ and how do you know it when you see it? According to the article, one of the key criteria that distinguishes storydoers from storytellers is that they are ultimately trying to improve the lives of their customers or the larger society. Furthermore, this objective is the driving force behind everything the company does—everyone must act in concert toward achieving this goal. From the administrative assistants up through the CEO and even extending outward to customers, everyone involved must be inspired to get involved in the movement and communicate and live out the message.

With this definition in hand, the HBR set out to compare several core business metrics between companies that they classified as storytellers and those that went the extra mile and considered to be storydoers. Among those companies deemed to be storydoers are industry leaders such as Starbucks, Apple, Jet Blue (one of my personal favorites that I consistently recommend), and American Express. The analysis found that storydoing companies such as these are more successful in engaging customers (both through the number of social media mentions and sentiment of such mentions), which in turn translates to tangible business wins that impact the bottom line, such as less money being spent on paid media per dollar of revenue and faster revenue and share price growth. The proof is in the pudding… storydoing pays off.

When Kelton was founded a decade ago, storytelling was its core. From day one, with our roots in journalism, we’ve sought to weave data into a compelling tale that not only provides the facts and figures necessary to inform smart business decisions but also provides a framework for action. In recent years, it became evident that what we were teaming with our clients to create went far beyond storytelling and has evolved into our own iteration of storydoing, one that we ultimately believe “helps brands navigate change.”

We are proud to see some of Kelton’s longest standing clients, such as TOMS shoes and Target, on the HBR’s list of successful storydoing companies, and are excited to continue building relationships with forward thinking brands that enable us to leverage our research, design, and strategy capabilities in order to complement their already strong platforms and help take storydoing companies’ businesses to the next level.

Allison Slotnick

Associate Director, Quantitative Research

Allison is an expert in quantitative research and is involved in all stages of the research process. With a background in research at both large and small research agencies and in PR, Allison brings...

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