Say Goodbye to Hollywood

Our starting point is the belief that in business, we need a new kind of storytelling. In the past, companies looked to Hollywood as a model for how to tell their story. The product or company is the hero, and the message is like a movie script that employers are reading from.

But digital technology has changed the way these stories are told, and who gets to tell them. Thanks to social media, what others say about your company matters more than what you say about yourself.

People want to know who you are, not just what you sell, and customers are not just consumers of your story, they are co-creators. You simply can't control the message the way you used to.

It’s time for marketers to say goodbye to Hollywood -- today's brands need to focus less on persuading and entertaining, and more on engaging and co-creating.

For the sake of this discussion, let’s make a distinction between story and narrative: 

Most corporate communications fall into the category of story rather than narrative. They explain why a person should buy something from the company and what they will get if they do. It is a story building up to a transaction. 

But in today’s digital economy, the narrative needs to be more about a relationship than a transaction. People need to know why they should have a relationship with you, what they will get from that relationship, and who they will be if they do. It is as much a story about identity as it is about utility.

The brands that understand this new kind of narrative are the brands that have been the most successful. In the coming days we’ll learn from their example. 

You might be wondering how this applies to B2B companies or your particular industry. I’ve used the same method with companies of all sizes and industries and even personal brands. I haven’t found a situation yet where it doesn’t apply. These days everything is H2H (human to human).

Up Next:


Next we will look at Shared Purpose, the first element of Strategic Narrative. Do you have a purpose TO, FOR or WITH?

Go Deeper: 

For more on the distinction between story and narrative, see my friend John Hagel’s post on the topic here.

Put into Practice:

Think about your own company story. How well does it connect your past to your future? How much does it focus on your product vs. your purpose? Does it engage people as consumers or as co-creators?

Share With Others:

If you find this Guidebook helpful, please share it with your colleagues. They can view the original webinar video and register for the email series at
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