This weekend, I visited the winery PradoRey in Northern Spain. They are proud to have more vineyard surface area than any other winery in the Ribera del Duero region. With a long history, they grow eight different Tempranillo clones from recovered vines of more than one hundred years old. During my visit, I learned about the process of caring for the wine and was impressed with their storytelling and how they had embedded the PradoRey history into the manufacturing and marketing of wine.
Leaders in every industry create narratives to communicate their values and vision for the company with employees. They build on those narratives to generate customer loyalty and identification with their products. PradoRey is a good example.
Situated in the Real Sitio de Ventosilla, the winery is part of a historical farm. It dates back to 1503 when the Earl of Ribadeo sold it to Queen Isabella I of Castile. In 1600 the Duke of Lerma started its exploitation as an agricultural and livestock farm. . The 1st Duke of Lerma built a royal palace on the land for King Philip III to relax and invite guests, who included the famous writer Lope de Vega and painter Rubens. In 1921, it became privately owned by the Velasco family and later acquired by the Cremades Adaro family. In addition to the vineyards, the farm grows a variety of crops like corn, potato, and sunflower and has 480 dairy cattle with a daily production of 12,000 liters of milk.
When marketing their top-of-the-line and new wine, PradoRey’s leadership team uses history to provide a wine with a story. Clients, they say, demand something unique and different. Why not provide a narrative for your exceptional product? Here are a few examples of how they provide a narrative for their exceptional product:
PradoRey’s Historical Series (Special Reserve) is a limited collector’s edition of 2.000 numbered bottles and customers not only enjoy the wine but also a little story that accompanies the bottle. For example, the RSV 1603 Rubens edition tells the tale of how Rubens painted the equestrian portrait of the Duke of Lerma, which hung in the halls of the Royal Posada until 1632. (It is now at the Prado Museum in Madrid.)
More recently, PradoRey created the innovative wine Adaro (2011) in tribute to the Javier Cremades Adaro, owner of the winery. The narrative of Adaro is about the founding values as a leader and the bottle reads “THE DREAM STARTS IN THE LAND: The love for this land inspire Javier Cremades de Adaro to start a personal dream […] He walked on the unknown frontier and today some of the best wine have emerged from these winery with a quality that impressed worldwide.”
In PradoRey tradition, the new leader of the company builds a narrative for the modern wine “Lia.” Fernando Rodriguez de Rivera, the winery’s managing director, says of this particular wine: “Lia is designed for the urban people: independent and non-conformist. People who knows what they want, who follows their dreams and seek pleasure’s sake. People who dares to break stereotypes.”
People are wired for narratives, thus storytelling is a key leadership competency. PradoRey uses its history and wine to connect with customers and communicate their values for quality and innovation, environmental sustainability, and social responsibility. Leaders use storytelling to connect with clients and inspire enduring enthusiasm for their products. In fact, for companies, the consumption of stories is as important as the consumption of products. Here are some ideas on how companies can create a narrative to reach clients and customers:
- Build narratives to create an organizational culture that emphasizes critical values of your company. Your leadership narrative should present your philosophy of management with a positive emotional tone.
- Tell these stories to your employees and clients to maintain an organizational identity and reputation. A good story communicates your organization´s moral stands and builds a community.
- Create stories that bridge the past and the future of your company to show consistency and credibility. Get the attention of your clients and employees building a narrative that makes sense of what your company has been and what it will be in the future.
- Take ownership of your story being the central agent of what is happening and why it is happening. Use the first person to craft an authentic narrative that focuses on your audience and emphasizes legacy.
- Remember that stories that touch us profoundly create an emotional connection that can last over time and develop loyalty amongst employees, customers, and even potential clients.