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Mar 14th, 2024 Share: Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn

The Power of Simple Stories

In a world saturated with information and distractions, the ability to communicate a clear, compelling narrative is a superpower. As an entrepreneur or business leader, crafting the right story can make all the difference in winning over customers, investors, and the public.

This insight was pithily expressed by political consultant Arthur Schmidt in his advice to General Electric in the early 20th century: “Campaigns are won not by the candidate or company with the best character or product, but by the one with the simplest and most clearly told story.” Or as his colleague Comstock summarized it decades later: “Pick a simple story and tell it again, and again, and again.”

This principle has been wielded to great effect by master marketers and leaders throughout history. Steve Jobs made Apple an icon by telling a simple story of rebels and misfits who “Think Different” and challenge the status quo. Subway became the largest fast food chain in the US by hammering a simple message of healthy, low-fat meals.

The takeaway is clear: In a complex, noisy world, simplicity cuts through. Customers don’t have the time or attention span to absorb nuanced value propositions or complicated product pitches. They’re drawn to crisp, focused, emotionally resonant narratives.

As an entrepreneur, distilling your mission and message into a simple, sticky story is one of the highest-leverage investments you can make. A clear narrative acts as a focusing mechanism, guiding your team and shaping every customer touchpoint. It’s the foundation for viral word-of-mouth and the key to occupying mental real estate.

So ask yourself: What’s my company’s simple story? How can I boil down our essence and unique value prop into a clear, compelling narrative? What’s the tagline that captures it all?

Simplicity doesn’t mean dumbing things down or leaving out important details. It means stripping away the extraneous to reveal the essential. Finding the core, and telling that story again and again and again.

In a world of complexity, whoever tells the simplest story wins. Make yours unforgettable.

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