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Companies Should be StoryDoing not Storytelling

September 5, 2013
Dimensional Innovations blog post header image

Some companies seem to be one step ahead of the competition. They consistently deliver new ideas to the market, build upon their success and outperform their peers while surprising and delighting their customers.

At the same time, there are companies who are willing to stand on the shoulders of these innovative and original companies to benefit from their success. What this looks like can vary – ranging from jumping on a trend to outright copying a business model.

At the least, these methods of attracting customers and increasing sales are unoriginal. The more blatant cases of mimicry reek of desperation and are insulting to the consumer.

Need proof? Take the case of Sketchers’ BOBS shoes, which is a spitting image of our favorite altruistic slip-ons. TOMS’ signature is its renowned social responsibility, donating a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair sold. In addition to looking a lot like the original, BOBS also donates to children in need.

While we think it’s wonderful that Sketchers is venturing into socially responsible products, we wish the company took the time to create something that wasn’t so blatantly derivative, right down to the three-letter man’s first name.

Media spend, storytelling versus storydoing

Consumers today demand authenticity. Authentic businesses inspire and prosper. As information becomes more transparent and people are increasingly savvy, it’s easier and easier to spot companies that fake their success. These are stories we tell for marketing, not stories we embody because we live and breathe their purpose.

The answer to this problem (besides ripping off another company) is a storydoing approach to your mission. Storytelling is a popular vehicle for many agencies and brands right now, there has been plenty written about the story of a brand, and while this can be a valuable tool (writing is design, too), marketing the story of your product is just that, marketing.

A marketing agency can’t fabricate TOMS’ shoes “One for One” mission. John Mackey didn’t start Whole Foods because he saw a trend he could capitalize on.

Social media mentions, storytelling versus storydoing

And Howard Schultz’s belief in the Starbuck’s experience isn’t a story; it’s real.

TOMS’ giving model is not a story, it’s a purpose played out daily. Living that story becomes an experience that lasts and creates a community that raves about your brand for years to come.

As Fast Company puts it, “When done correctly, storydoing is simply better business.” Sketchers and BOBS can tell all the stories about their “selflessness” they want. Ultimately TOMS, by simply living their story, connects to their customers far more deeply. They’ve created an authentic way for people to add the TOMS’ story to their lives. It is an authentic community.

Be the story; don’t just tell it.