Rafi Balouzian loves to walk. He walks everywhere. In fact, long before it was considered recreation or a ‘green’ alternative to commutes or cabs, Rafi would routinely walk 50 blocks to a business meeting—and still does.
Rafi was frustrated, however, because he could not find shoes that fit well enough for the amount he liked to walk. No amount of high-tech padding, pump pillows, padded arch supports or other gimmicks promoted a healthy walking stride.
Rafi went to nature as the inspiration for shoes of his own design. He examined the curves of the human foot and the circular motion of walking. He experimented tirelessly until he felt he had the right combination of designs and materials that supported natural human movement. While Rafi still believes “the best way to walk is barefoot,” he believes his shoes are “the next best thing.”
Every company is built from a story, whether you know it or not. The story about Rafi is the story of the founder of a small shoe company called CYDWOQ, (Old world craftsmanship for modern feet.) His story is on the website for his company www.cydwoq.com.
Rafi’s website includes a video that tells more about his story. Rafi’s father was a shoemaker. Rafi grew up learning how to make shoes by hand and he continues that tradition today by making all his shoes custom fit by hand. As a customer, you choose the leather, the color, and the style. If the shoe doesn’t fit right, you bring back to his store and he will personally adjust the fit. You can visit his store in person and look through the huge glass window connecting the showroom with the workshop so you can watch the cobblers making the shoes. (The video on the website gives a sneak peak.)
Rafi says, “It’s as important as the style to know the story.” He’s right because the story embodies the commitment, principles, and purpose better than any slogan possibly could. His story turned passion and skills into a workshop in Burbank, California that sells shoes around the globe. Rafi’s CYDWOQ is an example of a company that knows it’s story. The power of the story is carrying its message, culture, and uniqueness to buyers everywhere.
Stories are not a sales campaign. They are an invitation to join in an experience. Our brains use stories to explain the world. When we hear a story, we get information already in context so we understand it at a deeper level. A story tells us how, why and where a company is relevant to our own lives, goals, and identity.
A company story may not be obvious to many businesses, such as a law firm or a construction company, but every company has a story. To help companies identify theirs, A Think Lab developed the StoryOpenings ™ model. Using this model, A Think Lab delivers workshops, presentations and projects customized to needs of each client. StoryOpenings is often combined with A Think Lab’s Transmedia Storytelling workshop. This workshop takes the story and develops a strategy for delivering it across multiple media platforms.
Using story amplifies a company’s communication because it creates distinct and meaningful ways to engage your customers. Developing a story also creates a common understanding for internal communications. In the current media environment, every employee at a company is a marketing platform. Developing a story creates a unified purpose and focus across all divisions that will propel your company forward. But most importantly, by using story to drive your marketing and branding efforts, you will communicate to your customers and clients the passion, purpose, and commitment that distinguish your product or service above others in the market.