WTF Part 5: Corporate Narrative, Brand and Context

In part 1 of this five part series I plotted out what I’m calling the Seven Part Corporate Narrative –

Seven Part Corporate Narrative


You may notice that both ‘brand’ and ‘context’ are pointing outwards. This is deliberate.

I read an interesting article recently that said a person’s perception of time is a mailable thing. It had a good example to explain this: if someone turns up to a doctor’s surgery and is told the doctor is running 30 minutes behind they may be initially annoyed, but will then sit down and happily wait for 30 minutes. However if the person turns up and is told the doctor will be available soon, but then waits for 30 minutes they will become increasingly annoyed and agitated. Interesting? Rambling? Stick with me.

Interesting in the context of this model.

The model is saying there are two types of stakeholder. Either a) people who are pro-actively interacting with company, interested in an aspect of it (with a goal in mind) or b) the company’s activities enter into the life of the stakeholder and they are reacting in so manner.

Brand deals well with the group of stakeholders in bucket A – it helps them understand what the company can do for them and if the stakeholder wanted to dig deeper they can find out about the other aspects of the narrative. Brand connects with stakeholders who have an active interest in the company. They should be able to walk through the door a from that point be covered in brand.

But brand can come across as self-serving when it disturbs an individual’s life – brand tries to turn the disturbance into an opportunity for the company. Not really great behaviour that builds reputation with people who have nothing to gain from you and perhaps something to loose.

But there is another way – through sharing context. Context connects with stakeholders who have a passive interest in the company. A passive interest is perhaps a bit more difficult to grasp – it could be where an aspect of a company comes into contact with an individual’s life, instead of the stakeholders actively seeking it out.

Companies need to communicate the fact they share the same context as their stakeholders. Only from this point can there be common ground and a road to acceptance on both sides.

I’m aware this is a big ask – communicating context is difficult online – just read the pointless spats that take place in the comments section on the Daily Mail’s articles. When done well it should connect with the individual in a shared experience. On a basic level it needs to cover political dynamics, economic issues, social and technological change and environmental impacts (as you’d expect).

So that’s brand and context.


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