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If You Don’t Have a Story, You Don’t Have a Strategy

How Strategic Narrative Takes Your Company From Chaos to Clarity

by Payton Shand

“A company without a story is usually a company without a strategy.” 

Entrepreneur and venture capitalist Ben Horowitz uses this phrase to highlight the crucial role that story plays in shaping and focusing a company’s strategy. The more fast-paced and competitive a business is, the more critical clarity and focus are for its success. Horowitz goes on to say, “When a company clearly articulates its story, the context for everyone—employees, partners, customers, investors, and the press—becomes clear.”

A brand’s story plays an essential role in clarifying strategy: distilling the strategy into a narrative makes it become more focused. This alignment behind key concepts makes the strategy explainable to others and ensures a clear understanding and supports effective execution. 

The strategic stories used by essential brands follow a consistent structure. Download Woden’s guide on how this approach works, and how to put it to work in any company.

A focused story helps ensure a company’s vision is specific. When a company’s vision is not narrow enough, it becomes difficult to articulate why people should care about its products or services. Both employees and customers struggle to understand what sets the company apart from its competitors. This lack of clarity does more than prevent the company from conveying its value proposition—employees unable to articulate the strategy are less likely to be able to execute it, or adapt it independently.

Moreover, it is crucial to ensure consistency between the story and the company’s strategy. The story is not separate from the strategy but rather an integral part of it. The strategic narrative is a means to further define and refine strategy and enables companies to communicate their goals, values, and unique selling propositions.

When a purposeful companies defines its strategic narrative, it becomes an essential brand that can:  

Stay focused on their target audience: By defining the strategy through the lens of the customer, it ensures the brand orients towards its target audience and connects with the people that align with its beliefs

Build an efficient sales funnel: By aligning a company’s strategic narrative with sales and marketing, a brand can communicate its value proposition, engage with the target audience, and guide prospects through the entire customer journey

Become scalable and enable others to move the business forward: Clear direction enables individuals within the organization to make informed decisions and take actions that align with the overall strategy to drive the business forward

By aligning the story with the overall strategy, companies can leverage its strategic narrative to drive decision-making. 

The best strategies are defined by their simplicity. Here the brand story becomes a powerful tool again: it can be tempting to dismiss the idea of narrowing down a complex product or service, but distilling it into a few hundred words amplifies its value by making it understandable by a wider variety of people and by removing complexity from how people act on it internally. 

Moreover, maintaining consistency between the story and the company’s strategy is paramount. The story is not an isolated element; the story is an integral part of the strategy itself. By utilizing storytelling, companies can better define and refine their strategy, effectively communicating their goals, values, and unique selling propositions.

A clear and compelling story plays a vital role in clarifying and focusing a company’s strategy. By aligning the narrative with the overall strategic objectives, companies can communicate their vision, values, and value proposition in a way that resonates with their target audience. A well-crafted story serves as a catalyst for strategy development and helps to build an efficient sales funnel.

Payton Shand is a Brand Storyteller at Woden. Want to stay connected? Read our extensive guide on how to craft your organization’s narrative, or send us an email at to start the journey to uncover what makes you essential.