Building a Brand Culture Through Storytelling in the Workplace

by Knotel: Aug 03, 2018

Do you remember the moral behind The Tortoise and the Hare? Of course you do. We all do.

How is it that a fable that originated 2500 years ago is still widely known despite the fact that no original written account has survived? Because it was a good story, and good stories survive.

The key to seeding—and growing—your brand culture is to weave the story of who you are into everything you do and touch, including your workplace. It may take a long time, but as the tortoise has demonstrated, it will all be worth it in the long run.

The connection between a company’s culture and its success

Bill Taylor, co-founder of the business magazine, Fast Company, draws a direct line between brand culture and profits, saying, “You can’t be special, distinctive, and compelling in the marketplace unless you create something special, distinctive, and compelling in the workplace.”

Here are a few reasons why integrating storytelling into a branded workplace creates a stronger company:

  • It forces you to refine your values. For example, if your company sells products to outdoor enthusiasts, you could use workplace elements to clarify why you care about that niche. If your company prioritizes the adventure aspect, you could install a climbing wall. If your product focuses on using environmentally-friendly materials, you could fill the space with plants.
  • It firmly embeds your ethos in the minds of your employees. Your team makes decisions every day that are based on their interpretation of what your company stands for, whether your sales team is selling prospects on the value of your services or your product team is designing a new widget. You want their daily experience in the office to continuously reinforce what your company is trying to accomplish and why it’s important.
  • It demonstrates commitment to your customers and investors. For your company to grow its sales and customer base, external stakeholders need to believe that you’re sincere and dedicated. By integrating the story of who you are throughout your workplace, you signal to visitors that your employees are passionate and your company is devoted to long-term success.

Brian Brindisi, a senior associate at the renowned architecture firm Gensler, states: “Simply put, a good brand does more than establish a visual language; it creates an immersive experience for every person who enters their workplace.” By intentionally shaping that immersive experience, you can create a living, breathing symbol of your company’s values.

Bringing your company’s unique story to life

There are lots of strategies to incorporate your history and core philosophy throughout workspaces, including some inexpensive options. Consider these storytelling best practices as you design your approach:

  • Context makes your achievements and struggles more admirable. As the Harvard Business Review wrote, “Data can persuade people, but it doesn’t inspire them to act; to do that, you need to wrap your vision in a story that fires the imagination and stirs the soul.” Tell the story of how you have helped customers, and how that journey has continued to shape your company.
  • Characters are the best part of the book. Companies succeed when the right combination of people work together. Highlight the founder’s vision, how teammates help each other, and the ways in which you engage with your community.
  • Give us something to look forward to. Your story isn’t just about who you are and how you got there; it’s also about where you’re going. Design your branded workplace to help your team and customers visualize the future—and get inspired by it.

At the end of the day, your workspace is an extension of your philosophy, your brand, and your culture. You need to use it to share your unique story. As Brian Brindisi from Gensler goes on to say:

“Branding in an office space is critical to giving workers a sense of identity and connecting with their company… At its core, branding workplaces is a process of taking the characteristics that make a company great, and expressing those characteristics through emotive experiences that ultimately enhance learning, productivity, and the overall workplace experience for employees and clients.”