Ethan Allen Global, Inc., is one of the largest furniture manufacturing companies in the United States, with almost 300 stores and revenue of over $700 million. Founded in 1932 by brothers-in-law Nathan S.
Karen Dietz's insight:
Now here is an intrepid author, Marian Calabro, who takes on furniture maker Ethan Allen by rating their website "About" page.
The company's grade? A big fat "D". Why? No stories! And a video that holds you hostage. Yikes!
Periodically we need blog posts like this because there is nothing more illustrative of what NOT to do than a review like this.
So go read why Ethan Allen received such a poor grade and make sure you are not doing the same. And also use the article for ideas on how to fix/upgrade your current website using stories.
Winning entrepreneurs bond emotionally with employees, investors and customers--and dramatically increase their chances for funding and for long term success--when they hone their ability to tell meaningful stories about their businesses.
Here is an article discussing 2 examples of effective business storytelling for marketing/branding/identity purposes that really work. One is a small business (Baby Steals) and the other one is a large enterpriese (IKEA). You will notice the difference in their stories as the size of the business kicks in.
Pay close attention to what the founder of Baby Steals did/does -- because implicit in the example shared are story listening skills and how the stories she was hearing from customers/prospects also shaped the success of her company.
And then there are 10 tips for bringing storytelling into your business marketing/branding efforts. All are solid. A word of advice here -- working on several of these 10 tips takes time. The ideas you come up with during your first pass you will want to test with friends, colleagues, customers, and prospects. This is an iterative process where your focus and messaging gets sharper, clearer, and more powerful over time. So give yourself the opportunity to play. This goes no matter what size of business you have -- micro to large enteprise.
We are heading into the 4th quarter of the year -- what a great time to hone in on your business storytelling, laying a stronger foundation for your company in 2013.
If you don't like how things are going, tell a different story. Sometimes strategic change just means taking something from the periphery — an anomaly, a demonstration, a small innovation — and redefining it as central.
Truer words could not be said!
When it comes to organizational storytelling, updating or rewriting a narrative is essential work sometimes. The stories we tell about ourselves and share -- whether as an enterprise, small biz, or nonprofit -- shape the results we experience.
Want different results? Then shift your stories.Rewrite them (don't fabricate -- still be authentic) to emphasize different qualities. Or find new/different stories to tell altogether.
This is particularly important when, as the author Rosabeth Moss Kanter says, the current narratives inhibit rather than inspire.
This is a quick article with really good examples and important insights that I know you will enjoy.
So that leaves the following question on the table -- What biz stories do you carry that need to be rewritten?
"In facilitating a branding workshop last week, it suddenly struck me. One of the great myths of branding is the big guys get it right.
Thanks to their ample war chests, they can hire the smartest people, maintain an endless flow of M&Ms during focus groups and stockpile creative types.
It’s just not true."
Yep -- don't do what United Airlines did! Did they share a narrative? Yes. Is it a story? No. And the end result -- something awful. This is a great example of what we DO NOT mean by 'business storytelling.'
Some months ago I was waiting heart-in-mouth to run a corporate story session for eight alpha-males preparing to sell their extremely lucrative data analytics business. They had convened at 8.30 for a high-level strategy meeting before starting my session at 9.00. Would I be able to convince these men they needed stories? Would I be able to facilitate these techy geeks to find their stories? Loud testosterone fuelled laughter emanated from the boardroom and I heard the golden words from the CEO, "before we start let me finish my story".
The author goes on to discuss the power of business storytelling, and the danger for companies as well.
This is a very well balanced article with good cautions and tips. Enjoy!
I remember some years ago mentioning to a friend of mine that I believed storytelling was an important art for business and that it was an area in which I intended to specialise: in my naivety, I was a bit taken aback when his reaction was to ask “what’s the point of that then?"
Been there! And I love how this author Jim Pirrie answers his friend.
He goes on to say, "If we can re-learn how to engage with our colleagues and economy as communities, and engage with the myths that underlie them, then people will engage with us. And when people engage with each other - when people turn up as individuals and show that they care - then extraordinary things can start to happen in communities. New stories start to emerge and new outcomes become possible."
Get the skinny on engagement -- employee or customer -- with this article and how/why storytelling is the key.
"When you create a strong brand, creating a memorable story is easy. Opportunities to tell your story begin with your employees and radiate outward. Your story goes viral effortlessly."
So says author Gail Kent and she's right. Whether you have employees or not, her advice for creating your unique brand story is useable for any size business. It has to do with values, passion, standing out.
Gail uses the company Zappos as an example to illustrate her points. And there's a great video to watch where Zappos shares its story.
Read the author's tips and start creating your unique story. Enjoy!
As The LEGO Group celebrates its 80th Birthday, we take a look back at its history with this short animated film. Find out more here, http://www.facebook.com...
Here's some Friday Fun -- the animated story of LEGO! I wish more companies -- of any size -- would do something similar.
I love LEGO and could still happily spend hours building things. Now I know the fascinating story behind it. Which makes me love those plastic bricks all the more.
This is a 15 minute video (minus the rolling credits at the end). It's a little long and it could have been told a bit better. I found the narration a bit slow and sing-songy. Sigh. So the execution could use some work.
2012 Global Players takes a look back at how corporate websites have evolved over the past year, to uncover why today it’s imperative for businesses to invest more time, imagination and resources in creating a corporate narrative.
Now here's an interesting article! The material that peeked my interest the most dealt with how the Internet creates fragmented stories which leads to businesses losing control over their narrative.
But then the article goes on to suggest that the typical ways companies create their websites does not work anymore in this fragmented environment.
Then the authors offer a link to a free downloadable study that show what companies can do to combat this fragmentation, develop and share their narrative, and succeed in today's Internet world -- with examples!
I checked out the study and it looks really good. I think as I study it I'll get lots of ideas for re-tooling the website which is going under another iteration of improvements.
We at Zeega want to enable anyone to create interactive documentaries and invent new forms of storytelling. Today is a moment of dramatic media transformation. We see this as an opportunity for journalists, artists and the public to invent new ways to tell and gather stories.
Zeega looks like an application that bears watching. Read about their collaborative story projects and think about how you might be able to use this documentary story tool to create business stories of your customers or stories about your business. Think of customers and you creating collaborative stories together. Think of you and your staff creating collaborative stories together about your business.
ABSTRACT: Simplexity is advanced as an umbrella term reflecting sensemaking, organizing and storytelling for our time. People in and out of organizations increasingly find themselves facing novel circumstances that are suffused with dynamic complexity. To make sense through processes of organizing, and to find a plausible answer to the question ‘what is the story?’, requires a fusion of sufficient complexity of thought with simplicity of action, which we call simplexity. This captures the notion that while sensemaking is a balance between thinking and acting, in a new world that owes less to yesterday’s stories and frames, keeping up with the times changes the balance point to clarifying through action. This allows us to see sense (making) more clearly.
With analyses of dominant stories, discursive devices, life stories, documentaries, and oral tradition, these authors aim for a deeper understanding of order, constraint, conflict, legitimation, embodiment, and distributed improvisation.
This is an academic article that I'm looking forward to delving into. The authors are talking about organizational narratives, how workers make sense of complex events through sharing stories, and are then able to take action.
But I think the authors are also talking about how we select the stories we listen to and share, who is telling the larger narratives we are listening to, what are those stories stirring up, and what can't we see? Hmmmm -- great questions!
Download the free PDF of this article to learn more.