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How co:collective Is Using The Power Of Stories To Revitalize Companies

At The Fast Company Innovation Festival, growth accelerator co:collective reveals how it is helping brands to become “storydoers.”

How co:collective Is Using The Power Of Stories To Revitalize Companies

At business growth accelerator co:collective, the world is split into two types: “storytellers” and “storydoers.”

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“Storytellers” are traditional brands like McDonald’s, United, and Clorox: They tell their stories through classic advertising. But co:collective is more interested in transforming businesses into “storydoers,” which are brands like Apple, Toms, and Jet Blue that communicate primarily through innovation and customer experience. In other words, their work does the advertising for them.

[Photo: P. Claire Dodson]
At The Fast Company Innovation Festival last week, Ty Montague, co:collective’s CEO,  said his company is bringing that transformation to brands like Macy’s, The Museum of Modern Art, and the Charles Schwab Foundation. And he shared a helpful framework that he says works for both startups and companies that want to revitalize.

The co:collective Method

The accelerator thinks of everything in terms of story, so you might recognize these terms from English class. Each company or project begins with a quest–you’re shaping your own epic adventure, after all.

For a brand like Macy’s, co:collective defined the quest as “reinstating Macy’s as a place for inspiring solutions,” according to its website. They accomplished that by “recontextualizing the store experience” with new product ideas including a smart “magic bag” that allows for easier checkout and returns, and a Beauty Bento that creates makeup kits around a single look, like a smoky eye.

Co:collective splits up its method into four parts: protagonist, antagonists, participants, and stage. As you define the scope of your audience, you may be tempted to mark competitors as antagonists. But that may not necessarily be the case.

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“Enemies are not necessarily the competition, but rather an attitude to fight against,” Montague says. Tesla, for example, is a clean infrastructure company. So the antagonists aren’t other electric car manufacturers–they’re the people and businesses that work against clean energy, or the ones who are indifferent to environmental impact.

[Photo: P. Claire Dodson]
At a festival workshop, Co:collective split attendees into groups with instructions to take a specific company’s problem and find solutions that fit into four categories: services, spaces, products, and culture.

Immediately, ideas began to buzz around. People were eager to share their thoughts because they had a specific framework for splitting them up. They didn’t get mired in too many details or constraints, and instead came up with real, concrete solutions for change.

At the end of the session, attendees found that many of their ideas resembled the final ideas co:collective brought to its client. All it took was a restructuring of how they thought to unleash a flood of inspiration.

About the author

P. Claire Dodson is an assistant editor at Fast Company. Follow her on Twitter: @Claire_ifying.

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