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photo via Scottish Libraries

CNN’s business section posted an article recently that called out 15 mistakes that young entrepreneurs make. One of these was “You don’t tell a good story.” This got me thinking about the importance of storytelling for businesses.

The reality is that every business is a story teller. Some are great at telling theirs (i.e. Apple), some are horrible (i.e. that ubiquitous neighborhood restaurant that just closed), and most are somewhere in-between. While I think most businesses understand this fact to some degree or another, I’m not convinced that many understand the importance of it (and what to do about it).

We live in a world of personal freedom and identity. Everyone is looking to define themselves and find a place within their communities. And we all want a story to tell others. The brands behind the products and services we buy and consume help us in our quest to do this.

For example the brand of shoe we buy tells a story and we’re adopting that story for ourselves. My Puma’s are letting people know I care about fashion and style, as well as price (they’re still cheaper than Nike), and that I perhaps prefer the underdog (which I do). We buy stories, not just products.

Think about what you buy. Think about the services you use. Think about the charities and organizations you volunteer at and give to. Every one of these brands has a story behind it, and to some degree or another, you’re not just buying into the product or service, but ultimately the story the brand is telling you.

So, if you’re in the business of selling something you have to ask yourself: “What story is my brand telling and how well are we telling it?”

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