Our process with clients involves three main components to get ideas adopted: strategic story, experience design and creative multimedia production. In this post, we’re diving into strategic story – what it is, how it works and why it matters.  

What is a strategic story? 

Put simply, it’s pairing strategy with storytelling to move groups of people to act.  

Organizations rely on strategy every day to define goals, inform decisions, allocate resources and more. Strategy essentially asks, “How do we create a plan that we can get people to mobilize against?” In a world where data-driven decision-making dominates, the power of storytelling in shaping that strategy is often overlooked. However, using story alongside strategy is crucial in getting people to buy in and commit.    

What makes it such a compelling combination is that story pulls at the heart, not just the head. Strategy on its own doesn’t emotionally connect. You can tell someone a story and it instantly connects, from head to heart.  

Stories inspire and build trust – which is needed to create empathy. Empathy is required for people to consider knowledge beyond their own experience and learn or accept something new. When story is woven into strategy, they audience “gets it.”    

How to craft a strategic story 

Before we frame the strategic story, we start with the idea. This helps us understand where to go from there and determine the most effective methods for delivering content. Who is the target audience, how big is the problem we’re trying to solve and how do we frame that in a narrative? From there, the story can come to life, driving the development of experiences and content in a variety of formats. 

Next, we identify the characters who will drive the narrative forward. Hint: your organization is not the protagonist. The protagonist is generally your targeted audience – the hero who you help achieve their noble goal. Your role is to come along as the trusty sidekick whose primary role is to help the hero or protagonist make progress and reach that goal. One of the most valuable attributes of the sidekick is that they often believe in the protagonist even when the protagonist has lost all hope. Consider some of your favorite stories – Luke Skywalker had Yoda, Harry Potter had Ron and Hermione…you get the picture.  

Once the characters are established, the story should center on the hero’s journey, focusing on the challenges that they face and how you help them overcome those obstacles. This is the story structure. Many organizations become so internally focused that they can easily lose sight of what matters to the people they help – their customers, clients or community. Story structure can help companies avoid this trap by asking these key questions:   

  1. Who do you help?
  2. What is their goal?
  3. Why do they need help – what obstacles stand between them and their goal?
  4. How can you help them overcome their obstacles and achieve their goal?

While highlighting the hero, remember that your strategic story can and should still align with your organization’s overall purpose, values and goals. 

– – – 

We believe in the power of stories. 

They inspire, form new connections and create lasting impressions that bring ideas to life. A great idea simply isn’t enough. The power to influence change begins with a well-told strategic story. 

At Overflow, we recognize that the hardest story to tell is often your own. It helps to recognize that you have a story people care about and a plan to help them see it through – that’s a strategic story. When you tell it well, you connect the dots between purpose and process and create intentional change. Need help getting started? We’d love to connect