THURSDAY 26 SEP 2013 11:24 AM


A new study by Fishburn Hedges and Jigsaw Research explores the changing nature of corporate narratives, and found that businesses’ self-portrayal through communications is still not sufficiently engaging to customers.

While ‘storytelling’ is a buzzword in marketing and media circles right now, its meaning often still confuses the most experienced communicators. At the same time, their target audiences indicate that it is not effective enough in helping to reinforce good reputations if these ‘stories’ are not clearly reflected in the actions of their employees.

The research included a number of in-depth interviews with the communications directors of leading businesses including; Unilever, Body Shop and Telefonica, as well as the views of their crucial audience: the general public.

20% of the general public surveyed have been found to not believe brand stories at all, and 52% don’t believe business or brand “stories” if they are only told through advertising and communications. This therefore endorses the stance that brand storytelling is much more believable if ‘stories’ extend to the company’s customer service and overall behaviour.

Simon Matthews, chief executive of Fishburn Hedges Group said: “Audiences can see right through business messages that don’t correlate with behaviour. Corporate communications has an opportunity to help unify different organisational voices and bridge the gap between them to be a force for cultural good within the business.Whether we are talking about storytelling or corporate narrative, the reality now is that they aren’t being driven right through a business.”

IBM’s ‘Smarter Planet’ was one example of a corporate narrative that was praised in the research because it was so heavily rooted in the organisation’s strategy and its culture. The respondents also praised Sainsbury’s, Apple, and John Lewis for driving their stories through everything they do.


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