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Douglass and Lisa-Marie Hatcher, April 18 2022

Why Your Organization's Story Likely Suffers from Message Decay (And What You Can Do About It)

Chances are pretty good that your organization's story is likely to  become muddled the more it's shared, especially down the chain and with external stakeholders.

Instead of being articulated in a clear, consistent way, too often an organization's story runs the risk of getting "telephone gamed;" that is, the more the story is shared, the more it changes and becomes distorted.

That's what the ISSIMO Story Agency found in research it conducted last year around storytelling, fundraising, and messaging. ISSIMO Founder, Jacob Hoehne, shared insights from their research as well as the evolution of his brand during our latest episode of communicate4IMPACT LIVE.

Jacob explained the inspiration behind the study this way: "we wanted some empirical research to say, what is the impact of storytelling on fundraising? And we really wanted to arm our partners who are over marketing and business development in these organizations with the tools to be able to say, 'look, when we invest in better storytelling, we make more money, we attract more capital.' "

What the ISSIMO study confirmed about fundraising should give many organizations pause when it comes to their story—its story development, delivery, and retention. 

ISSIMO's research found that—on average—50% of executives said they have a crystal clear understanding of their organization's story. But as soon as the story goes beyond the executive head into the team, that number cuts in half, dropping to 24%. And when you go outside of the organization, that clear understanding of the organization's story drops again to 13%. 

This decay curve can't help but challenge an organization to pursue greater clarity and alignment when it comes to its story. And it begs the following question that Jacob posed in our interview: "while you may have a good grasp of your organization's story, does the person in the cubicle next to you have that same understanding?" And what about external stakeholders like the media and investors?

So, how does storytelling help? We'll tackle that question in Part II of this blogpost next Monday.

You can request the ISSIMO report here for free or click here to learn how you can craft a business message that's memorable and repeatable.

Written by

Douglass and Lisa-Marie Hatcher

Previous Leaders Matter. Leadership Matters More.