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The more complex your company, the greater your need to build an integrated story system.

Storytelling has become a popular agenda item for C-suites everywhere. That’s because defining your core story can make life easier for everyone. When your brand or company has its core story in place, your company knows what it stands for, employees know how to talk about what they do, and investors know whether you’re a good place for their money.
Here’s the complication: If you’re like many of the companies we work with—and especially if your company is made up of multiple acquisitions—it’s difficult to create a core story that easily fits everyone’s agenda and needs.
In other words, one story does not fit all.
It’s a lot to expect—that one story, told one way, will work for everyone who has to live with it within an organization. In many cases, your audiences range from the C-suite, management, HR, and sales to R&D, industry analysts, and investors. It’s difficult for one story, told one way, to resonate with all of these audiences. That’s why we devised a unique framework we call the Integrated Story System™. This framework relies on the integration of several different yet interrelated storylines that can be used across the enterprise to gain traction:
The Master Story: This is your core story, your “True North” story, your reason-for-being story. The Master Story is the single, unifying story that defines who you are and why you’re different—as well as articulating the impact you’re trying to make.
The Major Stories: Often, organizations comprise several large divisions that drive the business. Let’s say a large technology company has divisions serving four major markets: retail, auto, travel, and CPG. This means that your Master Story needs to be interpreted four different ways. Rather than let people interpret it for themselves, you’ll want to keep it cohesive and translate the Master Story on your terms.
The Micro Stories: A client we’re working with operates in a multitude of verticals, which means the Master Story and Major Stories must resonate at the vertical level—in this case, many of them. Oftentimes, there are several sub-categories of verticals within that need to be addressed and spoken to in a meaningful way for the story to work. And that means you’ll need sub-stories that tie in, too.
So, when you’re thinking up a core brand story, remember that you’ll probably have to figure out how to adapt it to fit in a variety of contexts and apply to multiple audiences, both internally and externally. It’s important that your story be highly focused, yet flexible enough to be translated in ways that can gain traction in all the right places throughout your organization and the marketplace.
If you’re interested in hearing more about 20nine’s Integrated Story System™ and developing a brand story that works in all the right places, hit me up at

By Gary Kopervas

Gary is a self-proclaimed “creative misfit” in that he doesn’t fit neatly into any one compartment or department. He’s an insight spotter, brand strategist, writer, content creator, creative facilitator, product innovator and a nationally syndicated cartoonist.

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