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- Why The Story Teller Is The Most Important Person In The World - Lessons from ITSU
Why The Story Teller Is The Most Important Person In The World - Lessons from ITSU
Why The Story Teller Is The Most Important Person In The World - Lessons from ITSU
“A Business is Essentially a Fiction” - Yuval Noah Harari
This bubbled up in conversation with Charlie McViegh. Charlie pioneered craft beer in the UK.
Craft beer took off. Because everyone believed the story. Stories make ideas spread.
The bible is a story.
The US constitution is a story.
The rules of tennis are a story.
Manchester United is a story.
Stories are a totemic magnet. They pull people together and mobilise them.
A brand is essentially a fiction.
A brand is essentially a story.
Story is vision.
Story is values.
Story is sales.
Story is hiring.
Story is the battering ram to push through obstacles.
Story is late nights in the office.
Story is investors gagging to invest in your brand (or story).
Story is supermarkets knocking on your door.
The exciting news, mate?
You, yes you, as the founder, get to write your story.
Bring the brand you want into the world. Create the change you want to make.
Be The Hero of Your Own Story.
First, to understand why the best brands are stories we must understand why Humans love stories?
“Humans are empathic creatures. And as such, we respond to stories because they cultivate emotion and a sense of togetherness — a connection.” - Darren on-his-ciggy-break, SCREWFIX, Roehampton
“Stories make us feel like part of something bigger than ourselves”. - Wendy, Ladbrooks, Darlington
Consumers aren’t buying brands.
They’re buying stories.
Buying connections. Buying something bigger than ourselves.
Nike is a Story - Just Do It
We think we’re buying trainers. We’re not. We’re really buying the story. Just Do It says something about our identity.
Apple is a Story - Think Different.
We think we’re buying technology. We’re not. We’re really buying the story. Think Different says something about our identity.
Imagine a Creative Director in SOHO House on a Dell or Think Pad … c’mon bro!! Dutty Tinnggggg - take that Fedora hat right off him.
Craft Beer is a story
Craft beer was a story. A story told by nascent-now-big-brands like Camden Town Brewery, BREWDOG and Brixton Brewery.
Craft beer was a story about different taste and better quality.
A different way of doing things.
People believed the story.
The story spread.
Beer assailed to the haughty heights of pugnacious wine drinkers.
Lucky Saint is a story - Luke and Emma are beautifully painting the Alcohol Free. We’re all in on it.
As a founder, you LITERALLY write your story.
“The most powerful person in the world is the story teller” - Steve Jobs
**If I was a carpenter, I’d brand myself Steve Odd-Jobs, fixing your Apple’s and Pairs.
But… you’ve gotta believe… don’t stop believin’
The brands and founders that MAKE IT.
Like really, really smash it out the park.
Believe in their story like a little kid believes in Father Christmas. (Or Santa Clause, if you’re yank nause)
The founders that flounder and don’t quite make it. Don’t truly, from the pits of their soul believe. You can sniff it a mile off.
When you really believe your story - in dark times you become the Hero of your Own Journey. Keep pushing when Sainsbury’s delist you. Keep going when your best employee leaves.
More energy + conviction in your story = higher chance of success.
That’s why I dress up as Vin Diesel from Furious and Furious when attending Cost Price Increase meetings.
“OK..OK..ok me hermanos…we’re putting through a 55% CPI, comprende, brroooooo?!
**leaves Fast, when buyer gets Furious
How to write your brand story?
Once you write you story, everything becomes easier,
Well, you’ve actually gotta sit down and write down your story.
Most founders don’t.
That’s why they lose.
You may think sitting down and doing invoices is more important.
Or checking the Sainsbury’s rate of sale is more important.
Or checking your stock levels are important.
It’s fucking not.
What’s the point in fixing the ship, if you haven’t set the destination or compass.
Julian Metcalfe is the BEST IN THE WORLD at storytelling to his employees and consumers.
At ITSU, the eat beautiful story is plastered here, there, anywhere and everywhere. All the time. In ITSU’s office. In every ITSU store. Every employee handbook. Every Social channel.
Julian believes in the “Eat Beautiful” story like a little kid believes in Father Christmas. Julian paints the story, daily. Employees believe the story like kids believe in Christmas.
At Pret A Manger, Julian would tell the story too.
The below picture has been doing the rounds on LinkedIn this week, detailing Pret’s CEO Pano Christou’s climb to the top.
Pano’s climb to the top is incredibly. A story of grit.
But zoom out,
Emlpoyees dont stick around for 23 years if the story and vision and values are crap.
The Most Important Person in The World is The Story Teller.
Julian Metcalfe is one the best story tellers.
Check out the podcast I did with Julian here
Wanna learn more about how to craft your story?
Ask yourself these questions before to cultivate the curiosity to write the story?
What is the change we want to make in the world?
How can we get people to love us and hate us?
What’s one thing we see, no one else is sees?
What do we want our brand to make people feel when we’re not in the room?
The biggest danger to your story (and brand)?
One of the biggest unseen problems founders don’t even know about and it can literally destroy your story and destroy your brand.
The Stale vs. Fresh Paradox:
Stale: Not enough ideas = brand becomes stale = brand doesn’t reinvent = brand/story becomes boring.
Fresh: Too many fresh ideas = too much changing = confusion = lack of brand/story consistency.
Founders speaking to other founders too often is, paradoxically, a blessing and a curse.
It can freshen up the story. Fresh ideas inject vibrancy and new ways of working.
Too many fresh ideas = too much confusion = erodes brand story = lack of consistency = brand loses it’s soul.
Something like this…
Founder goes on retreat or supper club or founders meet up.
Speaks to other founder.
Has loads of fresh ideas. New shiny Toy Syndrome kicks in.
Founder rushes back to the senior leadership team and tries to implement 1000 new ideas.
“Let’s launch this NPD” “need to report on the weather in Botswana too” “the board want to see 20 different versions of the same fucking thing, to make a simple decision that should take 20 mins, but takes 20 fucking hours”.
Erodes the core story
Team slowly get disenfranchised
Story becomes clumsy - employees think, who are we? What do we stand for?
Imagine if J. R. Tolken, came back from a retreat in the New Forrest.
After a few ice baths and milking off a Mountain Goat in a pair of goal keeper gloves.
Changes Lord of The Rings to Lord of The Long Tings.
Frodo fucks off Mordor. Heads to Ibiza. Big OI sesh-warnie. I mean, who can blame him? That whole ring debacle looked LONG TING.
Too much changing. Erodes story. Erodes brand.
Or JK Rowling comes back from the Cotswolds on a Glamping fest.
Harry Potter morphs from like-an-actual-proper-fucking-Wizard, to a 5 side football “Wizard” called Gary Pott-head.
Who thinks he’s Messi and Inniesta - before he fucks off in his Messy, banged up Ford Fiesta.
Fresh Ideas should ADD to the story not DISMANTLE it.
Too many fresh ideas, erodes story, erodes brand.
Rude Health launching kombucha is an example of a fresh idea eroding story.
My mate and utter legend Ed Hauck, was super honest about it on the poddy, The Curators launching Mushroom burgers into TESCO. They’re now flying as they’re focusing on their story, Protein.
Another example of fresh ideas eroding story.
Pip & Nut launching dairy alt milks is an example of a fresh idea eroding story.
BUT… Pip & Nut launching peanut butter cups is an example of where an idea ADDS to the story.
How to navigate the Fresh vs. Stale paradox?
I mean, look, I’m part of the fucking problem. I host founders supper clubs ffs.
How to implement fresh ideas without eroding the story?
Sit on them.
Founders must SIT and let fresh ideas and ways of working seep in slowly. Marinate. Instead of rushing to Slack telling the senior leadership team idea x, y or z.
The 70/30 rule - 70% consistency, 30% fresh ideas.
Allow 30% of your head space for new ideas and ways of working. 70% on keeping consistent with your brand story.
Use the story as the compass
Be like Julian Metcalfe. Actually write down your story. Use it as a North Star to make decisions.
Right that’s enough of me telling stories.
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