How to Promote On-Brand Behaviors with Storytelling
“Remember that we are, by nature, suckers for a story.” – Jonathan Gottschall
People love stories. Some argue that storytelling is what makes us human. But we do know for certain that the emotional appeal of stories has an impact on behavior. So, it makes sense that the best brands tell stories. Unfortunately, when it comes to changing behaviors, employee habits aren’t as easy to influence as consumer buying decisions. Rebranding is its own kind of business transformation, and your employees are going to need effectivebrand training to create a real business impact.
Harnessing Storytelling for your Brand Training Initiative
The powerful story at the center of your brand should also translate to your brand training. In fact, that’s probably where you should start. Here are three factors to consider as you build your design strategy around storytelling.
Before creating a narrative, you have to understand the business goals underlying the branding initiative. For example, CAB needed their 3rd party salespeople to better understand the value of their brand, and to better convey that brand to consumers. Rather than just talking about the company, how do you teach someone to accurately represent a company? What is the impact you want your brand training initiative to have on your organization? Which key performance indicators should be impacted? How should they be impacted? The answers to these kinds of questions will help you build a strategy around your story.
Break down those larger business goals, but also think about how they will affect your individual learners. You should conduct workshops and research learner groups to understand their current state. What are your learners currently saying, thinking, and doing? What are the specific behaviors that would contribute to the business transformation? Moreover, how do we get from point A to point B?
Your story needs accurately communicate your brand to employees, but it also needs to be about your employees. Your learners are, in part, the subjects of the story. So, show them the employees they should aspire to be: specifically, imbed the importance of on-brand behaviors within the stories you tell.
A powerful brand story can inspire your learners to invest in business transformation. Essentially, your story becomes a motivational factor for behavior change. So, consider storytelling as a training tool. For example, you can preface the training modules with a video testimonial discussing their individual impact on the brand, model on-brand behaviors, or help then navigate relevant interactive scenarios. Finally, be sure to use the research about your business goals and your individual learners to personalize the story — it should reflect your learner’s current and ideal states.
Rebranding Success Story
One of our clients, a large aerospace manufacturer, was in the process of rebranding when they reached out to our learning team. They had several disparate organizations with separate offerings but they lacked a central brand identity. So their goal was to combine their branches into one unified company with common values and culture, and they needed to see some changes from their employees.
It was important for their employees to feel as though they, as individuals, had an impact on the perception of the company as a whole. Moreover, they wanted employees to be able to make brand-aligned decisions that represented the new, unified, company. Of course, the brand training solution proposed by the AllenComm learning team was designed with those three key factors in mind.
Consolidating Brands and Business Units
AllenComm conducted early discussions with different business units to understand the current company cultures and to make sure that the proposed learning initiative fit within the larger business goals. The brand training had to effectively communicate why it was important to share common values, attributes, and differentiators, as well as show what those values are.
Defining Learner Groups
After a discovery period, the AllenComm team determined that there were six learner groups, each with different levels of brand awareness and training needs. This meant the training content would require a degree of personalization to ensure employees would be on the same page.
Unified Brand Training
The final training design was a learning ecosystem, containing several paths with ongoing learning activities centered around a single story. For some of their learners, a blend of web-based and instructor-led training was necessary; for other groups, a web-based-only approach was perfect. The overall brand training design included planning for rollout, ramp-up, communications, badging, rewards, performance management, and measurement tools.
Successful rebranding starts with a story, but brand training is the best method to deploy that story. Storytelling is a great way to connect with your learners, but your training content also has to create real behavior change. So if you can first break down your business goals and understand your audience, then you can use brand training to help push forward those critical business transformations.