Corporate Narrative

WTF?: The Corporate Narrative (Part 1)

Jargon in corporate communications is a constant source of frustration. The Corporate Narrative is the latest for me.

I do use it as a term. You may too. But I guess my gripe is – do we have a common view of what it is?

Probably not.

This post seeks to define it with a basic model. This post is also an unpacking of some thoughts that focus on the need for context, the role of brand and some other stuff like that.

First though, the model.

It seeks to identify the constituent parts of a corporate narrative.

The other key point for this model is each part should be thought of in relation to all the other parts, with an emphasis on how the narrative weaves around all parts to create one cohesive thread.

Here it is. If I can I’d like to call it the:

Seven Part Corporate Narrative


Here’s a quick run-down of what I think each of the parts mean –

The function of context is to establish common ground between the corporate and people who don’t have a clear position on the company. Its role is to communicate shared outlook and common human experience. It is the start of confidence.

Its role is to make a human connection between a corporate and an individual to the point where the individual builds a sense of trust and loyalty to what it wants to achieve.

Business model
Focusses on defining how a company generates, preserves and captures value and how the company differentiates itself from other businesses, especially its competitors.

Social purpose
Articulates an intangible or tangible value to society. At a basic level this is tax revenue. A more complex social purpose may focus on solving a societal ill.

Financial stability
Without ‘Financial stability’ the corporate will not be able to achieve its strategy – to take action that has a longterm benefit to shareholders.

In this context it’s how and when the CEO and the board plan to deliver value, from its business model, to its shareholders and society, within the context the company finds itself in.

Provides guidance when no other guidance exists. Inherently this is when the company needs to take a risk – when inaction is worse than action.

As an ending to this post I believe the corporate narrative should be encapsulated into one short statement – two words or a short pithy sentence that evokes something other than corporate speak.

What those words do is up for debate – its either the first few words of the narrative – “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” or an encapsulation of the overall gist.

BTW – this post is the first in a series of five that explores the Corporate Narrative, so keep an eye out for weekly updates. Subsequent posts will look at each part of this model in more detail.

What do you think?
What do you think should be in the corporate narrative? And is there any jargon that gets your goat?


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