The core narrative can be a great asset to any organisation’s strategy implementation process. While companies allocate resources to define their mission, vision, ambitions, and purpose — a crucial effort to set direction and focus — the internalisation of overarching ambitions and strategies often falls short among employees within the organization

At Moeller & Company, we have observed much overlooked potential in the concept of a company’s core narrative. The core narrative can be a great asset to any organisation’s strategy implementation process. While companies allocate resources to define their mission, vision, ambitions, and purpose — a crucial effort to set direction and focus — the internalisation of overarching ambitions and strategies often falls short among employees within the organisation.

This is where the core narrative comes into play. A robust core narrative is typically easier to convey, as it is more relatable and effectively establishes the framework and direction for the company’s strategy. With nearly three decades of experience in brand, strategy, and communication for businesses and organisations, Annemette Moesgaard sees the core narrative as one of the most powerful tools in strategy execution.  It is instrumental in engaging employees in the company’s strategy and in presenting the company to the external world.

Purpose of a core narrative

According to Annemette, the core narrative is a central part of the company’s branding and storytelling. It serves as a simple and effective management tool, both strategically and operationally. It acts as a potent yet often overlooked engine in strategy implementation, encapsulating the strategic direction and the shared story that guides everyone involved.

‘A strong core narrative expresses the essence of the company’s mission and values, providing a cohesive story for all stakeholders. Internally, it serves as the common thread, shaping the style and tone of communication throughout the company. It must also reflect the company’s core values. Think of it as the company’s picture book: an uncomplicated, easily understandable story that all stakeholders can recognise in the company. It should motivate employees, be attractive to customers, inspire partners, influence others, and explain itself to society and decision-makers’, says Annemette.

In everyday operations, the core narrative is adapted and integrated into the company’s communication efforts. Starting from the same foundation not only strengthens internal direction and understanding but also enhances the impact of the company’s messages, whether communicated through social media, job postings, websites, intranet, newsletters, annual reports, presentations, or in meetings with key stakeholders, decision-makers, and influencers.

Is the core narrative even more than a mission, vision, and purpose?

The core narrative is our collective story about where the company comes from, what it is, and where it is heading. The key elements of the core narrative are as follows:

  • Where do we come from? (foundation/roots)
  • Why are we here? (raison d’être/mission)
  • Who are we in the world? (our values)
  • Where are we today and whom do we serve? (starting point today)
  • Which societal trends do we need to address? (major themes: climate, diversity, social responsibility)
  • Where are we heading? (vision)

This can all be presented in the form of a concise and easily accessible story — an appealing elevator pitch a maximum of one page long which is easy to understand, remember, and identify with.

How do mission, vision, and core narrative connect?

‘In my view, they fit together perfectly. The vision describes the image of the company’s desired long-term future. The mission describes the core function of the company. The purpose describes the basis for the company’s existence. And the company’s values convey how it wants to be in the world. The core narrative encompasses it all. Without necessarily mentioning everything specifically, it illustrates the foundation of the company — its history, what it does, how it operates — as a workplace and in society. The core narrative evolves over time, reflecting the development within the company as well as in society. Many companies today need to address topics such as climate, diversity, and social responsibility in their narrative. This hasn’t always been the case’, Annemette explains.

Why is the core narrative essential in strategy implementation?

Strategic work often primarily takes place at the executive level, relying on analyses and facts. The strategy itself is often a lengthy document or PowerPoint presentation that is challenging to remember and difficult to use directly for engaging employees and other stakeholders. On the other hand, a comprehensible and identifiable core narrative has a pull that can inspire and engage, thus contributing to driving change. The core narrative ties together mission, vision, and values, encompassing and reflecting the reality in which the company operates and where change occurs.

Why is the core narrative now more important than ever?

We live in a time where we crave stories, defining ourselves based on and in relation to narratives. We choose stories that make us feel part of a community. Many companies have untapped potential in this regard; the core narrative has become a competitive advantage. Does the company have a story that I want to be a part of? One I can see myself in? This is crucial in creating attention around the company, attracting and retaining customers and employees while establishing and maintaining a ‘licence to operate’.

Additionally, the core narrative encourages learning and coherence — it connects experiences with future expectations and creates a link between the overarching and everyday tasks. And finally, it’s simply easier to remember a story than a somewhat vague vision.

How do you personally think the core narrative will evolve over time?

Like everything else, a company’s story will change as the company evolves and as expectations and demands change. New generations of employees, who focus heavily on equality, diversity, and mental well-being, and who expect their work to have a higher purpose, will impose new and different demands on companies. This will be reflected in companies’ narratives in the years to come. Some will be first movers while others will follow. Those who don’t adapt will face challenges, regardless of whether it’s called a core narrative, a key narrative, or something entirely different. The important thing is that companies understand how to tell their unique story, and that the stories are authentic and reflect the current times.

Annemette Moesgaard

For nearly three decades, Annemette Moesgaard has held executive management positions in prominent Danish and international companies as well as NGOs. In her role as Chief Communication Officer, she has been responsible for corporate communication, public affairs, social responsibility, and the corporate narrative. As a trusted advisor for CEOs, boards of directors, and executive management, Annemette has played a key role in enhancing executive leadership, business transformation, and cultural change as well as sustainability, diversity, and inclusion. To create an authentic, trustworthy, and engaging corporate narrative, she believes a combination of strategic thinking, psychological insight, in-depth business knowledge, and storytelling is essential. This, along with a true understanding of the company’s position in society and the expectations of multiple stakeholders.