Narratives of Change: Crafting Identity through Founder and Organisational Storytelling

Narratives of Change: Crafting Identity through Founder and Organisational Storytelling

Aaron Leaman

 / 

Dec 28, 2023

#OriginStories #FounderJourney #EntrepreneurialSpirit #BusinessNarratives #BrandIdentity #LeadershipInspiration #CorporateCulture #StorytellingInBusiness

Aaron Leaman

Stories are not just narratives; they are the bedrock of our identity and existence. They shape how we see ourselves and the world, influencing every decision and action. But what happens when these stories are about the very inception of an individual or an organization? Origin Stories, whether personal or collective, are more than historical accounts.

An Origin Story can define the essence of an individual or an organisation, guiding its future and shaping its identity. Yet, not all origin stories are created equal. There's a profound difference between an Organisational Origin Story and a Founder Origin Story. Both are critical, serving distinct purposes and audiences. In this exploration, drawing from the narratives we've unearthed for our clients, such as Thibault Sorret's journey to build ERS and the urgent reality that laid the path for the creation of Eeden, we'll illustrate how each type of story crafts the identity and perception of a business and its leaders.

What is a Founder Origin Story?

Definition and Focus: A Founder Origin Story is a deeply personal narrative. It details the challenges, inspirations, and breakthrough moments that led a founder to create their venture. It's about the person behind the brand, their values, and how their personal history intertwines with their business philosophy. For instance, our work with ERS involved uncovering Thibault Sorret's profound experience in the jungles of Panama, showcasing how personal resilience and vision can shape an entire organisation.

Impact and Importance: This story type is crucial in humanising the brand. It builds a personal connection with the audience, making the founder relatable and inspirational. Thibault's story, as told through our collaboration, is a prime example of how personal stories evoke empathy and admiration, forging a deeper connection with the audience.

The Origin Story of Thibault Sorret:

"It was while travelling through the jungles of Panama that Thibault Sorret first felt an overwhelming connection to the natural world. Surrounded by that untamed abundance of life, it awoke in him a profound sense of appreciation and awe. As he continued his journey, the forest cleared, and the pristine wilderness was replaced by a patchwork of silent, wasted lands. It was here that Thibault was first required to confront the magnitude of ecological breakdown head-on. But rather than losing himself in despair or indirection, he chose to act on hope instead of fear, seeing these desolate lands for their possibility rather than their loss. He envisioned what could be instead of focusing on what was

After returning from his trip, Thibault dedicated his career to addressing the challenge of restoring degraded lands and began surrounding himself with passionate individuals who were also committed to the cause. When his co-founder Priscille Raynaud came aboard, she brought with her a passion to empower the people that stewarded the land. Together, they began working to build a world where we cherish all species and recognise the importance of the habitats they occupy. 

This journey led him to a single question, which has been woven into the very heart of ERS: “How can we achieve restoration that works for the climate, biodiversity, and the communities who call these places home?” and the pursuit of an answer - underpins his every thought and action. "

As Thibault Sorret's journey demonstrates the profound impact a Founder Origin Story can have, let's now turn our attention to an Organisational Origin Story that equally illustrates the compelling force of collective purpose and vision.

What is an Organisational Origin Story?

Definition and Focus: The Organisational Origin Story centres on the company's inception. It's about the 'why' and 'how' of the company's existence. This narrative goes beyond the founder to include the collective journey of early team members, the development of core products or services, and the mission that drives the organisation forward. In our experience crafting the story for Eeden, we focused on articulating their transformative vision for the textile industry.

Impact and Importance: This narrative builds a brand's identity and culture. It's a tool to engage not just customers but also employees, investors, and partners. Eeden's journey, as articulated through our partnership, illustrates how a compelling organisational story can inspire a shared vision and foster a strong, unified corporate culture.

The Origin Story Of Eeden:

"For hundreds of years, clothing has been an essential part of human life, serving not just as a means of self-expression but, more fundamentally, as protection against the elements, ensuring warmth and providing security. However, in the modern era, we’ve confronted an unsettling realisation: this industry built to shield us from nature’s extremes is contributing to the degradation of our planet and consequently impacting our collective wellbeing. 

Our realisation of this uncomfortable truth fuelled the formation of Eeden, motivating us to enact real change and sparking us to set out to transform the senseless cycle of waste into one of renewal. In our early days, the pivotal question that propelled our journey forward was as humble as it was significant: "How do we craft the world’s most sustainable t-shirt?" In seeking an answer, we embarked on a journey that led us far beyond a single product. What we wanted - what the world really needed - was a regenerative model for the entire textile industry. 

In the pursuit of this goal, we explored solutions that tackled these pressing issues of reusing and repurposing textile waste and discovered processes that allowed us to recycle items once considered lost or discarded. Through these efforts, we created an approach to reduce the need for virgin materials, allowing us to recover and rejuvenate fibres and turn waste into worth. This discovery became the bedrock upon which we built Eeden, with a new system that respects our planet’s natural resources while maintaining the demands of the fashion industry. 

Today, as Eeden continues to grow, we are constantly reminded that our work transcends beyond textiles or t-shirts. It’s about participating in a larger movement, with an ambitious collective of trendsetters, innovators, and visionaries, pushing the boundaries to craft a regenerative narrative for our planet. 

To us, the future lies in the things we discard, the materials waiting for a new life and a greater purpose. Every piece of our recycled fabric is a chapter in this story—a story of renewal, innovation, and possibilities. Together, we are rethreading the fabric of the industry, creating a tapestry of change, one fibre at a time."

After exploring Eeden's transformative journey, it's evident how an Organisational Origin Story like theirs not only redefines an industry but also creates a community of shared values and vision.

Key Differences

Personal vs. Collective Journey: The Founder Origin Story is about the individual, like Thibault Sorret's transformative experience in Panama, while the Organisational Origin Story is about the collective, such as Eeden's collaborative vision for sustainable fashion. Both narratives, as uncovered and articulated by us, serve different but complementary purposes.

Audience Connection: Founder stories tend to connect on a more personal level, evoking empathy and admiration. In contrast, organisational stories aim to create a broader sense of belonging and purpose among various stakeholders.

Purpose and Usage: Founder stories are often used for leadership branding and personal PR, whereas organisational stories are utilised to enhance corporate branding, culture building, and marketing. The narratives of ERS and Eeden, as revealed through our work, demonstrate how these stories together, create a comprehensive brand image.

Integrating Both Narratives

While distinct, these two types of stories are not mutually exclusive. The narrative of Thibault Sorret provided a human face to ERS's broader ecological mission, while Eeden's organisational story gave depth to their industry-wide vision. Together, these stories, as uncovered and crafted by us, create a powerful and multifaceted brand identity.

Whether it’s the Founder Origin Story or the Organisational Origin Story, both narratives serve as powerful tools in defining and expressing the identity of a business. They're not just about where a company comes from; they're about what it stands for and where it's going. Through the stories of ERS and Eeden, as well as others we've had the privilege to help shape, we've seen firsthand the transformative power of a well-told narrative. If you are looking for support with your storytelling, reach out to us here.

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