Whenever I teach a class in marketing I talk about storytelling. Brands must tell stories to make themselves real and relevant in the eyes of the guest/customer/end user. Its why we like local businesses, they are stories we know because they’re usually run by someone we know – or someone is a friend of someone we know.
The great thing about stories is that they work externally – in marketing – which has been the focus of my career, but they also work internally to create culture within a company. Stories of founders and the culture they create are rife. Who doesn’t know something about Howard Schultz, Henry Ford, Hewlett and Packard of HP or Michael Dell of Dell Computers, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, or Brin and Page of Google? Their stories resonate as reasons to buy their products or believe in their companies because we can relate to the real humans who run them and believed in their ideas.
As for keeping that culture alive, that’s a huge challenge. It means instituting the stories so that the culture continues forward as the founder(s) intended.
Adam Lashinsky in Fortune wrote about Steve Jobs recently, (sorry, to read the entire article you have to pay, and I read this in the print edition) and one of his points of emphasis was Jobs’ commitment to instituting the way he thinks through the development of Apple University and hiring topnotch case writers and Professors to collect and implement teaching methods based on his thinking.
That’s smart leadership by creating cultural stewardship through storytelling. And like much of Apple, its very smart marketing