Entrepreneur Olivier Sère: “Without pity towards brands that think they’re smoking us out”

Olivier Sère: “Without pity towards brands that think they’re smoking us out”

To seduce consumers, nothing beats a good story. How to talk about your company with sincerity and creativity?

When I arrived in communication twenty-five years ago, companies were in a vertical position with a narrative that took little account of audience feedback. Storytelling then often took liberties with the truth, disguised the facts or even bamboozled people.

This is no longer possible today; we are ruthless towards brands that think they are smoking us out. Companies and brands must now be in a posture of authenticity, sincerity, co-construction, inclusion, vision. A very complex path to take but much more virtuous on arrival. To extract the most authentic narrative, you have to place the cursor between the past, the present and the future.

What story to tell when you are a start-up without a past?

It’s quite simple to start from a blank page and make your story resonate with the times. You must first bet on the initial spark, the one that will arouse curiosity, like the story of the founder of Uber, who, one winter evening in 2008 in Paris, under the snow, could not find a taxi. and thought it would be nice to have one via his phone.

The example of Lucie Basch, the creator of Too Good To Go, formerly an engineer at Nestlé, is also interesting. She resigned overnight to join the fight to reduce waste on a global level. This initial, personal spark will set the story. But it must be quickly relayed by the idea of ​​building your business on a collective future. A brand must indeed be able to evoke a vision of the common good, a projection into the future and not just of its business.

What are the inspiring case studies?

The LVMH group (owner of “Les Echos”) proposes to write the “future of tradition”. Future. Tradition. Far from being in opposition, these two terms mutually nourish each other in a very stimulating story that synthesizes the values ​​cultivated within the group: exceptional know-how, innovation, creativity, aesthetic sensitivity and ethics.

Another example: that of Dassault Systèmes, which offers a story around the rebirth of industrial know-how, with an explicit reference to the Italian Renaissance, to propose an industrial revolution comparable to that of the printing press. The well-handled past can thus help us to project ourselves intelligently into the future.

What makes the difference between a good and a bad business story?

All well-functioning companies have the ability to produce content that will have a triple action: sustainably nurture and move the brand, forge a rich and lively link with people, be as close as possible to the company’s fields of action . In general, today you have to be interesting before you can be interested.

A company must deliver a narrative that draws audiences into its sphere of influence and feed it with content that is entertaining, informative, or helpful. Too Good To Go, for example, offers articles on its blog to help understand food waste and reduce it. It is also possible to operate from time to time in “newsjacking” mode, a technique which consists of bouncing off a moment in the news.

Le Slip Français did this very well in 2012, during the presidential election, by adopting the slogan: “The change of slip is now”. But beware of the edge fault. During the Black Lives Matter movement, some American companies, and not the least like Pepsi, took too opportunistic steps and quickly found themselves pinned on social networks.

Do you necessarily need a hero?

We try to be on a scheme where there is necessarily a hero. What people are interested in is walking in the footsteps of an evolving hero. The hero can be the founder, the brand, the consumer or even the employee. The American company IBM understood this more than forty years ago.

By creating the “IBmers”, a community that brings employees together. The CEO takes the precaution of involving the entire social body and making the collective always responsible for IBM’s success. The employee can therefore be the hero, but in a less corporate story with a more commercial orientation, it is advisable to bet on the customer.

The mark will act as an adjuvant that helps the hero to accomplish what he could not have done alone. To galvanize the consumer, Nike proclaims: “Just do it”. Apple exclaims: “You’re more powerful than you think! “, while Dove adds:” You’re more beautiful than you think! »

*“These companies that tell you stories. Beyond storytelling”, Olivier Sère, Dunod editions, XX pages, 18.90 euros.

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