Does your company have an interesting founding history? Then tell them! I’ll show you which narrative patterns you can use to inspire your (potential) customers and give you tips for linguistic narrative tricks.

Remember: You can always visit our category ‘ online marketing ‘ for more articles.

preparation

Before you can put your founding story on (digital) paper, you first have to create the basis. You should be able to ask and answer the following questions:

  • Why did I start my company?
  • Who are the protagonists?
  • What problems does my product solve?
  • How does my product make the world (of my customers) better?
  • Who is my Brand Hero?
  • What does my style guide say (tone, communication, speed)?

Fortunately, you will not be left alone to answer these questions. I will tell you what to look out for in my article on the brand story.

All questions answered? Then you have to determine the appropriate narrative pattern for your company’s history.

Juhu, get down to screaming company history … it’s lunch break soon.

3, 5 or 7 acts?

Stories are traditionally told in files. For the creation of your company’s history, you can use the classic nude structures as a basis, which we almost all still know. The focus is always on a conflict that drives the action.

3 acts

  1. Introduction: main character, place, conflict are presented.
  2. Main part: conflict reaches its climax.
  3. Conclusion: Conflict is overcome.

5 files based on Gustav Freytag

  1. Exposure: the main character and co. are introduced, the trigger for the conflict becomes visible.
  2. Enhancement of action: complications that prevent the resolution of the conflict.
  3. Climax: conflict reaches its climax.
  4. Falling off story: The climax continues.
  5. Resolution: The conflict is resolved.

7 acts after Dan Wells

  1. Hook: conflict is processed.
  2. First turn: conflict becomes clear, new turns occur.
  3. First trick: negative situation forces protagonists to act, conflict persists.
  4. Focus: The situation is getting more and more uncomfortable, protagonists have to act.
  5. Second trick: first attempt to resolve the conflict fails.
  6. Second twist: protagonist experiences development: important idea, objects or people who help.
  7. Resolution: The conflict is resolved.

Solve a conflict, but how?

If you want to use the act structure, you inevitably need one or more conflicts. For your company history this means:

  • Conflicts can arise before and during the foundation.
  • With the foundation, your product, an insight they are solved.
  • The more acts, the more the conflicts have to give in terms of action. The story should never be artificially drawn out.

With these five narrative patterns, you will see a storytelling light.

5 narrative patterns – blueprint for your company history

Long short; Heroic epic or would you prefer data and facts? There is no single storytelling concept that is equally suitable for all company stories. In the following, I present a selection of narrative patterns and linguistic icing on the cake that will help you tell your company story. Curtain up for five dashing storytelling variants with instructions for writing yourself.

1. Hero’s journey

Held dares something new, faces (his) demons, successfully returns to the familiar environment and has brought about changes. This is how the hero’s journey, the most famous storytelling formula, can be summed up in a nutshell. But there is something more to that.

What is it?

The hero’s journey as a narrative pattern has existed in one form or another for as long as there have been storytelling people. It was researched and thus popularized by the mythologist Joseph Campbell. 

The hero’s journey according to Joseph Campbell is represented as a circle, with all stations that the hero has to go through:

It is important that he breaks out of his familiar surroundings and has to cope with a multitude of tests and conflicts on his journey. If this scheme reminds you of Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and other epic stories, it is not surprising. The Hero’s Journey is the most famous blueprint for blockbuster stories.

example

In its corporate history, the outdoor clothing company Patagonia sends the founder of the brand and climber Yvon Chouinard on a hero’s journey with the reader. From teenage climbing in the San Fernando Valley to the first self-made climbing hardware and waves of discharge in 1991 to the present. The fact that the founding story remains interesting to read despite its considerable length is due to the fact that it appears authentic and that difficult times are not concealed.

How to implement

The hero’s journey has therefore established itself as the ultimate in marketing storytelling, as it is entertaining and ideally offers potential for identification for the customer (with the role of the hero or mentor / helper).

An often overlooked problem of the hero’s journey as a storytelling template is its scope. So that it doesn’t turn into a hero’s day trip, a few crises and tests have to be established and overcome. But who has time to read through all of this? Your customers may not. For your company’s history, it is therefore advisable if you limit yourself to partial aspects from the hero’s journey.

Solid components should be:

  1. Establish an ordinary world: What was the world like before you founded the company?
  2. Adventure calls: Why did you start your company? What motivated you?

Then you can add one or both of the story content :

  • Meet the Guru: Who accompanied you on your journey to found your company? Who passed on their knowledge to you? Knowledge for the customer: This knowledge is now passed on to the customer. You become part of the story and identification is possible.
  • Overcoming the monster: Which “grievances” do you want to fight with your company? What were your monsters (crises in founding)? Knowledge for the customer: This is how you have overcome crises / grievances and so you can help the customer to overcome his crises / grievances.

The end :

  1. You return with the “elixir” (your product, knowledge). What did you learn? How can it help your customer?

Is it suitable for my company?

The hero’s journey in its entirety is only suitable if you really have enough conflicts and plot points available. If, on the other hand, the heroic epic of your founding is unnecessarily drawn out and inflated with crises, your customers will quickly lose interest and perceive you as not very authentic.

However, the hero’s journey in a slimmed-down form is almost always a suitable template for your company’s history, provided you are willing to reveal mentors and crises.

2. Dave Liebers V-Formula

US columnist Dave Lieber’s V-Formula does not have any bells and whistles and is therefore a good alternative to the hero’s journey. Instead of many small conflicts, there is a large one, which is dealt with in three acts.

What is it?

Like a V, Dave Liebers storytelling formula goes down rapidly, only to rise like a phoenix from the ashes. The process is as follows:

  1. Presentation of the hero
  2. Dramatized crisis with a low point
  3. Resolution of the crisis

Due to the strong dramatization, the readers should suffer a lot and enjoy the happy ending all the more.

example

Warby Parker , an online eyewear retailer, didn’t start out just like that, it had to come to a crisis. One of the founders lost his glasses on a camping trip when he was a student. There was not enough money to buy new glasses and so he spent the first semester not being able to see the blackboard properly. He couldn’t overcome this crisis at the time, but the moral of the story: with Warby Parker it would now be possible thanks to low prices and a wide range. The company manages to introduce the protagonists in just a few sentences and to convey the crisis with a happy ending through founding.

How to implement

All you need for Dave Liebers V-Formula is a crisis and the courage to dramatize it. For the company’s history, a crisis in the establishment of the company or a crisis that led to the establishment are very suitable.

Is it suitable for my company?

Are you not afraid to reveal your crisis? Then Dave Liebers V-Formula is a good storytelling concept for your company history. Especially if you want to keep it short.

3. Dale Carnegie’s story formula

Imagine you are stuck in quicksand, but you can save yourself thanks to your filled pockets and McGyver knowledge. A wonder? No, because the measures to save you can also benefit your customers. How do your customers find out? Using the Dale-Carnegie story formula.

What is it?

The story formula of the American author Dale Carnegie consists of three acts:

  1. The protagonist is in a tricky situation.
  2. The protagonist takes measures that help him out of the situation and resolve it.
  3. The benefits of taking action are disclosed.

The aim is to make it clear to the reader, in this case your customer, that the measures are helping them just as they have helped you (your product, starting your business).

example

The company Beard talk about the company’s history from the first-person perspective of the founder Eric tape wood. Now one could expect a classic founding story. However, Eric Bandholz is very clever at incorporating his “tricky situation” – despite a lot of positive feedback, he was unable to grow any further in 2012 and implement his visions.

The measure: to join together in a team and further expand the community – for the benefit of the customers, who are also called upon to become active in the community:

“We can’t do this alone, and we need you to help us change society.”

How to implement

To effectively implement Dale Carnegie’s story formula, you first need a tricky situation:

  • What made you and your company decide to take your product in a certain direction?

Then the action follows:

  • How can the problem be solved thanks to your company or product? Even more important than your measure is your claim to it. Ask yourself the following question: How should your customers be active?

In the end there is the advantage:

  • What are the advantages for your customers if they take action like you?

Is it suitable for my company?

Do you not only want to inspire your customers with your company and product, but want to get them active? Then Dale Carnegie’s story formula is a great option. It is important that you become personal and that you can inspire your measures.

4. Kishōtenketsu

Storytelling without crises? Hardly imaginable. But you will find out that it can be done without conflict and trials if you take a look outside the box of the western narrative tradition.

What is it?

Kishōtenketsu is a classic narrative structure from China, Korea and Japan. It is also known as the no-conflict plot. Instead, there is an unexpected turnaround in the 4-file structure, which at first glance has nothing to do with the plot structure:

  1. Ki : introduction to the subject
  2. Shō : Continuation of the topic
  3. Ten : Wende, which is only indirectly related to the topic
  4. Ketsu : Conclusion in which all elements are brought together and a conclusion is drawn.

A classic example of Kishōtenketsu is the following folk song by Rai San’yo :

  1. The daughters of a yarn dealer live in Honmachi in Osaka, (Ki)
  2. the older one is 16, the younger one 15. (Shō)
  3. The princes of the countries kill with bows and arrows. (Ten)
  4. The yarn merchant’s daughters kill with their eyes. (Ketsu)

Is not only used as a narrative structure in classic literature or manga, but also, for example, in Nintendo game design .

example

Not exactly Kishōtenketsu, but the smoothie manufacturer Innocent shows that a good, gripping company history can also do without any conflicts. Tension was created right from the start, when the visitors to a music festival were allowed to vote on whether the founders of Innocent should really go into business for themselves.

How to implement

Using Kishōtenketsu as a narrative structure for company stories first requires a rethinking of the storytelling structure. Instead of a conflict, it is important to create an exciting, gripping world right from the start, through which the reader’s tension rises despite the lack of conflict, which reaches its climax with the turnaround and the realization.

For the creation of a company’s history, this means that the turnaround can, for example, be an inspiration that at first glance does not have to have anything to do with the foundation in terms of time and topic and leads to you and your readers questioning everything. This is how you justify with a wow factor that your product is now the way it is and why you founded your company.

Is it suitable for my company?

Are you missing the conflicts in your company’s history? Then Kishōtenketsu could be the narrative structure for you. Findings that you had as a founder and that your customers also have are suitable for the transition. Findings that ultimately led to the foundation.

5. Colin Theriot’s Viking Velociraptor Formula

Colin Theriot from Cult of Copy likes alliteration. So much so that he simply called his Viking-Velociraptor formula . He always arouses interest, which is also the goal of his storytelling approach.

All that’s missing is the Viking.

What is it?

A story based on the Viking Velociraptor formula needs five important points:

  1. Verify: Describe something that the reader has seen, read, heard, or experienced before.
  2. Validate: Confirm your reader’s reaction to what is described – he or she feels right.
  3. Vantage (advantage): Use the information mentioned earlier to mention what you actually want to talk about.
  4. Values: Describe values ​​that you share with the readers.
  5. Villains (opponents): Denounce opponents who do not share your opinion.

example

At the start-up Einhorn you can see parts of the Viking-Velociraptor formula. The introduction to the About Us page describes a frustrating state that probably all readers are familiar with. This is followed by the “advantage”, because Einhorn does it differently.

In the founding history, such as the Fairstainability Report 2017 , opponents are clearly named and their own values ​​are compared to these:

How to implement

Colin Theriot uses his formula for all possible text variants. For the company’s history, it can be combined with the foundation. Instead of just jotting it down, you can start with an anecdote that describes something that everyone has experienced before or what can be a shared experience for your target group.

This can lead to the wish to start a company (your actual topic). In the following story, it is important that you clearly work out the shared values ​​and make it clear who the opponent is.

Is it suitable for my company?

If you want to use the Viking Velociraptor formula for your company history, you should be clear about the values ​​you and your readers share and who the mutual opponent is. Parallels to storydoing can be seen, in which, in contrast to classic storytelling, it is even more clearly defined what is being fought for and against.

The following narrative tricks not only help employees with space helmets.

5 narrative tricks for your company’s history

Is the narrative pattern fixed? Then it must now be filled with words. With these five tips you can get the best out of your company’s history.

1. Get into medias res

Especially with longer company stories, it is important that you get your readers excited about your story right from the start. This is made possible by getting started with medias res. This means that you start in the middle of the action, without an introduction to the action.

For example, you can immerse yourself in medias res in the crisis and only then get into the action. It is important that you do not reveal everything with this method, but arouse interest.

2. Use signal words

Stories where the plot doesn’t move are boring. Fortunately, you can create tension with a few words:

  • Suddenly
  • For the first time
  • At once

Use these signal words sparingly, whenever you want to initiate a turnaround and create tension.

3. Describe emotions

Instead of writing that a crisis left you in despair, you can rewrite the emotions with actions. What made you do the desperation? In this way, you ensure that the readers not only believe the emotions, but also empathize with you.

4. Interviews / discussions as company history

Dialogs read more dynamically than a classic mountain of text. As part of your company’s history, you can, for example, include an interview with yourself or a conversation in a team. However, make sure that the spoken content is really captivating and not just empty phrases.

5. Change perspectives

The boss tells the company story? It doesn’t always have to be. There may be people or even animals around the company from whose perspective anecdotes or the entire story can be told.

Find your company history

Be it a hero’s journey or the V-Formula – if you want to write an authentic company story that will delight your customers, then you mustn’t be afraid of experimenting. Let yourself be inspired by the formulas and methods presented and adapt them individually to your story.

Would you like to learn more about storytelling, company stories and web texts? Then I can recommend the following articles:

  • Brand Story: Tell the story of your brand
  • 7 steps to the perfect web text
  • Storytelling trends 2018
  • This is how you recognize (un) professional texts

And our storytelling team will be happy to help you with all questions about storytelling and writing your company history .

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