If you are a social entrepreneur or a professional marketer with a social good brand and you have heard of storytelling, most probably you have the following questions on your mind:
“I love the concept of storytelling for my organization. However what does it mean?”
“What kind of stories I can tell about my startup?”
“How do I know what story is most suitable to my organization?”
In one of my previous articles I discussed the need for storytelling for social good brands and how it should be reflective of the role of an organization in the social impact ecosystem. Further to that, understanding the 5 basics of storytelling is very crucial for entrepreneurs and marketers to explore what kind of stories they can tell to their audience and key stakeholders.
Over the last 2 years I have collaborated with several social entrepreneurs to create stories for their brands. They came from a variety of segments- cleantech, livelihood creation, waste management, healthcare and education. Based on my experience with them, there are 3 broad types of stories social good brands should tell. Here, we delve into them.
Stories Of Positive Change In Lives Of Your Beneficiaries Or End Users
The ultimate and most important objective of a social enterprise is to bring about positive social change in the lives of its target customers or beneficiaries. This can happen only when you address a pressing need they have in the most sustainable and efficient manner. Thus there is a direct benefit of having solved the problem which in turn leads to a host of other indirect positive outcomes.
For example, a social startup produces efficient cook stoves that replace mud stoves in rural areas. These stoves mitigate household air pollution caused by the smoke of burning firewood. Apart from the direct benefit of better cooking, it has far-reaching positive effects not only on the health of rural women but also on the well-being of their children.
Tip: Identify a few compelling real life stories from the field to convey the multi-faceted impact they are bringing about. These stories need to go beyond the immediate and obvious benefit. Get into the lives of your impactees.
Stories Of Social Innovation
Vehicle of social impact is the product or service you have innovated. You identified a social need and went to the drawing board to design a solution. Social innovation is more than just the features of your product or service. It’s a sum total of end-user feedback, its usability and benefits and how effectively it reaches your end-user. Unlike a pure technology innovation, social innovation requires the participation of a wide variety of stakeholders for it to be successful and impactful.
A cleantech startup builds and deploys micro power plants that run on agricultural waste. Success of their innovation does not merely depend on its technological effectiveness but on the startup’s ability to train and recruit local farmers to operate the plants.
Tip: List out all the stakeholders crucial to the success of your innovation. They are the principal characters in your story other than your product, of course.
Stories Of Struggle
All entrepreneurial stories are stories of struggle. Bringing about a real social change is a path fraught with challenges of various kinds- mobilising resources to start and sustain an organization, building a passionate team, winning the trust of communities you want to work with, reaching your target customer in the most cost-effective manner, postponing self remuneration for growth of venture and such. Stories of struggle can serve to inspire others and build an emotional connect with your audience.
A for-profit social enterprise collaborates with several tribal communities to help them build sustainable livelihood opportunities. Most of these communities are in Naxalite areas and its team had to overcome death threats, social taboos and logistical hardships to carry out meaningful impact work.
Tip: Pick out a few high and low moments in your journey towards building your organization that show your conflicts and how you resolved them. Your story needs to earn the viewer’s respect for your work.
As the owner of your social good brand, you are the chief storyteller. You need to understand what story to tell not only to captivate and connect with your audience but also to build your brand.