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Storytelling is 90% of Building a Unicorn


Have you ever wondered what sets unicorn companies apart from the rest? It’s not just about having a groundbreaking product or millions in funding. The secret sauce often boils down to one thing: storytelling. Yes, you heard that right. Storytelling is 90% of building a unicorn. Let’s dive into why crafting a compelling narrative is crucial for transforming a startup into a billion-dollar powerhouse.

What is Storytelling in Business?

Storytelling in business isn’t just about spinning a good yarn. It’s about weaving a narrative that resonates with your audience on an emotional level. It’s about sharing your brand’s journey, values, and mission in a way that captivates and engages. The right story can turn a mundane business into a memorable brand.

Understanding Unicorn Companies

So, what exactly is a unicorn company? A unicorn is a privately-held startup valued at over $1 billion. Think Airbnb, Uber, and Slack. These companies didn’t just achieve their status through innovative products alone; they built powerful stories that connected with people worldwide.

The Power of Storytelling in Building a Brand

Storytelling is the bedrock of a strong brand identity. It’s what helps you stand out in a crowded market. A well-crafted story can create an emotional connection with your audience, making them more likely to choose your brand over others. It’s about creating a narrative that your audience can relate to and feel a part of.

Case Studies of Successful Unicorns Using Storytelling

Take Airbnb, for instance. Their story isn’t just about finding a place to stay; it’s about belonging anywhere. Uber’s narrative revolves around the freedom to move. Slack’s story is about transforming the way we work. These companies have leveraged storytelling to create brands that are not just recognized but loved.

Key Elements of Effective Storytelling in Business

What makes a story effective in business? Authenticity is key. Your audience can tell when a story is genuine or just a sales pitch. Relatability is also crucial; your audience needs to see themselves in your story. Moreover, your narrative should reflect your vision and mission, focusing on the customers’ journey and experiences.

How Storytelling Drives Customer Engagement

A compelling story builds trust and fosters loyalty. When customers resonate with your brand’s story, they become more than just buyers; they become advocates. Storytelling helps create a community around your brand, turning customers into a tribe that shares your values and vision.

The Role of Founders in Storytelling

Founders play a pivotal role in storytelling. They are the face of the brand and the primary storytellers. Sharing the origin story of how the company was founded, the challenges faced, and the vision for the future can be incredibly powerful. Visionary leadership and personal narratives often resonate deeply with audiences.

Leveraging Digital Platforms for Storytelling

In today’s digital age, platforms like social media, blogs, and video channels are invaluable for storytelling. Social media allows for real-time engagement, blogs provide a space for in-depth stories, and videos can bring your narrative to life in a dynamic way. Utilizing these platforms effectively can amplify your story’s reach.

Challenges in Storytelling for Startups

Maintaining authenticity can be challenging, especially as your company grows. Adapting your story to different audiences without losing the core message is also tricky. Moreover, startups often face skepticism; overcoming this requires a consistent and genuine narrative.

Measuring the Impact of Storytelling

How do you know if your storytelling is effective? Key performance indicators (KPIs) such as engagement metrics, customer feedback, and sales data can provide insights. Positive testimonials and case studies are also strong indicators of a successful narrative.

The Future of Storytelling in Building Unicorns

The future of storytelling is digital and interactive. With the rise of virtual and augmented reality, brands can create immersive storytelling experiences. AI and data-driven narratives are also emerging, allowing for personalized and dynamic storytelling.

Practical Tips for Effective Storytelling

To craft an effective story, start by knowing your audience. Understand their needs, desires, and pain points. Keep your messaging consistent across all channels. And remember, simplicity and relatability are key; complex stories can alienate your audience.


Storytelling is not just a tool; it’s the heartbeat of a successful brand. For startups aspiring to become unicorns, crafting a compelling narrative is essential. It’s the stories you tell that will resonate with your audience, build trust, and ultimately, drive your business to new heights.


1. What makes a story effective in business?

An effective business story is authentic, relatable, and aligned with the company’s vision and mission. It should resonate emotionally with the audience and be consistent across all platforms.

2. How do I start building a narrative for my startup?

Start with your origin story. Share why and how your company was founded, the challenges you’ve overcome, and your vision for the future. Make sure your narrative aligns with your brand’s values and mission.

3. Can any business become a unicorn with good storytelling?

While good storytelling is crucial, it’s not the only factor. A strong product, market fit, and business model are also essential. However, compelling storytelling can significantly enhance your brand’s appeal and engagement.

4. How often should I update my brand’s story?

Your brand’s core story should remain consistent, but you can update and add to it as your company evolves. Share new milestones, challenges, and achievements to keep your narrative fresh and engaging.

5. What are some common mistakes in business storytelling?

Common mistakes include being inauthentic, overly complex stories, and not aligning the narrative with the brand’s values. Avoid making your story too sales-focused; instead, focus on building a genuine connection with your audience.

Originally published in Medium.


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