Going Back to The Future ! “Your BackStory”
A Gateway to Emotion Connection & Engagement
Hellooo Again from Story Mavericks !
Just a quick little “Hope all is going well so far in Twenty 12.” What a difference a year makes. If you’re from the Northeast or snow country and love snowfall & winter, I’m guessing you’re not a happy camper this year. Last year was a different story. Hang in there. Snow is on the way.
Ok. Todays topic relates to the importance of revisiting your backstory. How you became what you are today. Your heritage.
I’d like to explore the topic by first sharing a little story.
It’s about a dog food company.
How Did Pedigree (Dog Food) Transform Itself From A Just Another Company Selling Dog Food, To A Distinctive Company Where Dogs Rule ?
Back in 2004 Pedigree began a process to strategize how to answer the challenge most businesses face today, commoditization of their brands. (Price-Price-Price) Early on, as part of that process, they revisited their roots, their history, their backstory.
The Pedigree Team immersed themselves in a journey through time, to explore and try to uncover new ideas or something from the past that would be special today, in moving forward and rejuvenating the Pedigree Brand.
By revisiting their back story, the Pedigree team were reminded that The Mars Family, who founded the company, had been passionate pet-lovers for generations and that Pedigree had a long history of being a brand endorsed by breeders. What Pedigree discovered was that they had moved away from the original founders mission.
That mission was centered on being in the business, because they loved dogs.
That was their soul.
They had become another me too company who tried to make food that cost less.
Rediscovering their soul created a gateway to the future success of the Pedigree Brand. It became their compass to guide future business strategy. More importantly, it allowed them to transform their culture and invigorate the brand with a greater sense of purpose.
It made them different and distinct in their industry.
Imagine the difference in a company culture where it’s employees come to work thinking that they work for a company who loves dogs, versus coming to work for a dog food company. I believe it makes a big difference.
Imagine again, the neat, talk-able stories, that were created by everyone walking the “canine talk” at Pedigree.
Here’s a few actions Pedigree took after exploring their backstory:
- Employee badges and cards included photos of employee dogs.
- Employees were encouraged to bring dogs to work or use the companies on-site dog care center.
- The company offered health insurance for pets.
- In some cases dogs made sales calls on supermarket buyers
- The company crafted a creative customer (dog) experience statement that they called “Dogma”, a manifesto on why the company exist and how it should behave.
” Originality matters. But history matters too. The very act of rediscovering and reinterpreting the past creates the clarity and confidence necessary to craft a distinctive game plan for the future.”
William Taylor-Co-founder, Fast Company Magazine, Author of Practically Radical
I came across the quote in “Practically Radical” a book on the changing landscape of business management from William Taylor. (Great Book!)
The Pedigree story is an example of one of the many companies that get the fact that their heritage & tradition can be an important component, in providing a competitive advantage versus competition, and one that can’t be copied.
The transformation of The Pedigree culture, no small task, gained momentum and energy by exploring their back-story. Understanding their history helped create a clear path and distinctive game plan for their future.
The key message I wanted to share with this post is the critical need for all businesses to look at themselves with a pair of “Fresh Eyes”. Let’s face it to remain wed to past practices ignores the reality of a changed world. Despite the revolution in marketing, there is still important lessons we must take from the past.
Imagining your business from the framework of a story and revisiting the effects of your heritage, your origin, history- back-story, is a great place to start. In that story can be found a script to guide your future communications and the staging of authentic experiences for all stakeholders in your business.
In part two I will share some thinking on the elements to consider in your back-story including some questions to explore with your team, colleagues or friends. Until my next post, give some thought to why and how your company was founded. Take care & always, “Rock Your Customers.”