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  • Jari Ovaskainen

99% of business communications is bullshit

Storytelling and corporate communications, intertwined brothers from different mothers might not be the first impression that comes to one's mind within this context.


Stories usually separate from formal communications. It might be that those people who have substantial knowledge are not the storytellers or topics are not favorable for fascinating stories.


Fair point, those might be two separate avenues, which don't have too much common. We should perhaps aim our focus to the 1% who uses the storytelling to gain a competitive advantage. Consumers have less patience and less time to digest the information they are getting from various channels. The transition from the printed news towards digital platforms, such as YouTube, Twitter, TikTok, offers the platform for rapid publishing in a way it's integrated into our daily lives.


Our lifestyle favors the fast-moving consumables within physical objects and services; the same also applies to digital content. It's a fierce battle of the time; who will have the audience, who's the message gets thru to the audience? Here comes to play the art of storytelling.

Why is 99% of the stories that corporations tell considered bullshit by the audience?


It would be a great situation if the corporation represents the fertilizer industry, but it rarely does. Corporations want to influence the audience to acquire and consume the offered services or products to create revenue for the company owners.


The traditional vertical, top-down communication might not always serve the purpose with the modern, constantly changing audience when storytelling offers a valuable asset for the brand creation and influencing the cultivated customers.





Latter example of Red Bull's success is a prime example of such an approach. The audience is fascinated by exciting stories, something they can identify and connect by themselves with their own emotions. Great stories align around the concrete problem statement and problems-solution dynamic, which is relevant for the audience. Corporates should be able to answer the problem they are solving, why this specific problem is worth solving, and their role with the solution?


Let their customers become successful by offering the products or services, which makes them better. There is a long heritage amongst humankind to influence each other with a value-cause narrative. Value is the corporate formation, and the cause is the primary reason for creating value within the context.


This is the core of the communications; engage with the audience and interact with them, have a real connection. It's a two-way street. Value creation around the problem-solving statement should be the glue between modern communications with the audience.



Emotions as a key to good storytelling


Good stories cause emotions, and people find themselves in the stories. What is written between the lines and left to the own audience's imagination will fill in the gaps based on our own experiences – we suddenly belong to the story. Products and services can complete and reinforce ourselves as a consumer. Excellent stories and communications can be the first contact and preliminary user interface to the

company.


Think about it. Especially now, during the COVID-19, how often do you have a chance to see the physical product or person before deciding to consume the offered consumable?


Usually, references or reviews are one of the first actions taking place when making an online purchase. Other customers create this information, and communications are beyond the brand owner's hands; experiences are shared within horizontal dimensions amongst all users.


For this reason, some of the best international consumer corporations have shifted the media companies, which find alternative and innovative ways to engage with the following consumers. Media company meaning that they publish professionally created content, which is aligned with company strategy. For some companies, their communications and media department is more significant than other departments. Corporations can intentionally plan and build the brand with specific actions. Still, the image is something that consumers form by themselves and own – it's beyond corporate hands the constructed image of the company.



Some stories have wings


Red Bull is an excellent example of such a media company – do you know anyone in the Universe who wouldn't be aware that Red Bull "gives you the wings"! It surely does. Global, horizontally spread influencers are promoting the information very efficiently. What problem is Red Bull solving, or how is it relevant to their audience?


Who wouldn't want to be superhuman, who is fit and conquering the snow-capped mountains or flying thru the clouds with tiny wings? By using the Red Bull energy drink, followers can reflect the same feeling as a leading athlete. They become part of the story, which an energy drink company makes. The product itself is nothing special, it's just another energy drink, but stories elevate the product to become THE energy drink.


Interestingly, they don't promote the product features such as taste, energy content or even production sustainability – it just simply gives you the admired wings; how great is that! Red Bull has become a media company that offers the platform to make their users heroes and cultivate their success.


One should note that having wings can also cause a sudden failure; like in ancient Greek mythology, Icarus flew too close to the sun, and wings melted.


In the same way, corporations have to respect their audience as an individual and treat them like your partners. The story is not a slogan, nor it's a list of features. Dare to be honest, be what you are,

and break the rules but with contextual reason.


Think about the problem you are solving, what impact you are making and what challenges there might be within the journey. Tell this story without explaining things from the top, be selfishly superior or knowable. We find the utmost perfect things rarely interesting.


How great the story is a recent launch of the Tesla Cybertruck. Videos are named as embarrassed Elon Musk when an unbreakable window suddenly broke. The very same day, Tesla got 6000 preorders for the car, and the internet exploded. The occasion did not harm the Tesla brand, but after this story, everyone knows the Tesla. This is the art of 1% storytelling

Jari Ovaskainen

Doctoral Researcher