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Infusing Age-Old Wisdom into Modern Business Storytelling

When constructing your brand story and other business communications, it’s useful to keep in mind the wisdom of two and a half millennia ago when Aristotle said that impactful rhetoric – speaking designed to persuade an audience – has three key components:

  • Logos – an appeal to logic, to convince an audience based on reason
  • Pathos – an appeal to emotions, to convince an audience by invoking feelings, an empathy for the argument
  • Ethos – an appeal to ethics, to convince an audience of the credibility of the person making the argument.

Applying these three key components to business storytelling can help business owners connect more strongly with their target audiences. Here’s how.

The logos of your story captures the logical part of the mind through rationality and grounded reasoning. You can connect logically with someone by using facts and figures, research findings and common sense.

Depending on the type of business, when explaining the logical components of the solution you deliver, you could focus on the return on investment, time saved, product features and details such as price, payment options, manufacturing process, country of origin, distribution channels and the like.

The pathos of your story evokes emotion by using specific language and tonality. You can connect emotionally with someone by appealing to their feelings, such as love, fear or pride; their needs, such as the need for certainty, belonging or significance; their senses, such as sense of smell, taste or hearing; or their interests.

You can also connect emotionally with target audiences by highlighting company values and beliefs to answer the ‘why’ question (why you do what you do), and articulate what you stand for as a brand and why it matters. This is often achieved through the publishing of an aspirational vision statement, inspirational mission statement or brand manifesto, highlighting ESG initiatives, community sponsorships and other corporate citizenship activities.

From an internal perspective, a brand story that evokes emotion through shared values, beliefs and strong sense of purpose may become a driving motivational force for employees to fulfill the business purpose. And from an external perspective, a brighter beacon to those who resonate with what your company stands for.

The ethos of your story provides evidence of your credibility, reliability, trustworthiness, expertise and authority. You can connect ‘ethically’ with someone by highlighting credentials, accreditations, awards, testimonials, case studies, published articles and books, and highlighting depth of knowledge and breadth of experience.

Based on Aristotelian wisdom, when logos, pathos and ethos are built into business storytelling, there is a greater likelihood of shaping opinions, influencing behaviour change and sparking action.

The persuasive trilogy can, therefore, be equally powerful for external purposes such as recruitment, marketing and public relations campaigns as well as internal purposes such as change management, cultivating culture and driving strategic alignment.  

Consider how you can use age-old Aristotelian wisdom in your business storytelling and connect with your target audiences in a most profound way.

If you need help with business storytelling, please get in touch with Ros Weadman for a chat.

©Ros Weadman 2022 Ros Weadman helps people, businesses and organisations to build a distinctive brand, increase their visibility and enhance their reputation. Ros’s new book ‘Enhance Your Reputation’ is out now. Order your copy here.

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