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Are the facts, stupid?

I’d like to open a discussion talking about the dark side of the storytelling, its involution towards narratives plagued by half-truths and falsehoods.

While good stories are built on realities, even those that are endowed with an epic that inspires people and gains in transcendence, big little lies behave like a boomerang that finally hits the one who threw it. It’s the people, not the narrative! Between the 1940s and 1970s, the narrative behind a brand was simple, transaction-driven and in which, regardless of our role, we as individuals held a privileged position. In the 70s’ the world shifted to shareholder capitalism, clearly explained by Jensen and Meckling’s Theory of the Firm. The emphasis on maximizing shareholder value has since become a standard of modern management and argues quite explicitly for the pre-eminence of the shareholder: • It made organizations dysfunctional creating a wall between companies and the rest of stakeholders • It was the trigger to develop better narratives around a brand to capture client attention. At the end of the day, all of us love to hear good stories. Stories were brand-centered while people expected to be part, to modify, to re-create them. This situation lasted until the beginning of this century when we rediscovered that the key is people not the narrative. We needed more than 20 years to recognize what was clearly obvious. It’s story-building, not storytelling! A couple of years ago, I was enjoying a beautiful dinner in Paris, talking with my colleague, Philippe Mihailovich from HauteLuxe. We were talking about the risks for luxury brands of having stories without real and relevant content. He said:

“Storytelling is useless, we have to think of story-building based on facts, on real wishes, on the brand legacy and aspirations.”

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By Cristian Saracco

Founding Partner Allegro 234 | CMO zenziya | President aebrand | Member Medinge Group

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