So ubiquitous have the Big Tech platforms now become in our lives that most of us now experience them in at least two distinct ways. Firstly and immediately, through the apps and software that we use for our online lives — never a greater proportion of our experience than in the last year. Meanwhile, the companies behind this software have also become an ever-increasing part of the news headlines, for their indiscretions, controversies and attempts to justify them.

Across both these domains, the companies aspire to present themselves as at the cutting edge; the latest, newest incarnation of their type…

The slogan in it’s original use

Last week, while announcing a tranche of of new(ish) infrastructure spending, Boris Johnson declared his desire to ‘Build Back Better’.

In doing so, he joined an impressive, and truly varied list of organisations and individuals adopting the slogan over recent months, from coalitions of NGOs campaigning for a Green New Deal, to The OECD and the World Economic Forum, to political leadership manifestos, Deloitte, Extinction Rebellion, The Financial Times via Richard Curtis and Ban Ki-Moon, and 330 of the world’s biggest businesses, including Adobe, Capital One, Visa, Dow, General Mills, Microsoft and Nike.

As you might guess from such a…

Ahead of our Critical Purpose event this week, we discuss the new wave of organisations looking to save the soul of an oft-criticised industry.

I have to admit, I considered putting an exclamation mark in that headline. Perhaps even asterisks around the word *advertising*.

In the end I decided what could work in a tweet might work less well in other mediums, and erred on the side of more traditional convention. The point is — advertising is a particularly surprising candidate to ‘make the world a better place’.

On the contrary, for most of its modern existence, it’s far more…

A narrow focus on method is more likely to hinder social change than help it

This article first appeared in Stir — The Magazine for the New Economy

What exactly is ‘storytelling’? That is a more difficult question than it might at first appear.

In the most traditional sense, it describes the age-old act of telling tales, an oral tradition relayed in person, often involving a campfire. More recently, it’s become a general way of discussing how authors create narrative forms of art across many mediums, from films to television, books to games, and the original, spoken form.

But in…

Unsplash: Tom Ritson

Based on a Guest Lecture at the Institute of Culture and Creative Entrepreneurship, Goldsmiths, University of London.Originally posted at

In the last decade I’ve spent working with socially-driven brands and businesses, I’ve regularly encountered a strange contrast between the way that the senior people in these companies talk about what they are doing in person, and the practical reality of how they go about promoting it to the world at large.

One to one, the pride and belief in the unique nature of what they are trying to do almost always shines through.

But when you look at the…

Originally posted at

Think of the job titles that immediately evoke the most sympathy. Head of brand at a big corporation may not be high on that list.

But chances are, despite the likely material benefits of the role, they could be having a tough time of it at the moment. Because right now they’re probably struggling with a particularly thorny challenge.

After years of putting out great ads, turning round powerful campaigns, and bringing in the awards, they’re being asked to tackle something new and difficult — finding a way to convey the company’s inner values or ‘purpose’.

Daniel Stanley

CEO of Future Narratives Lab; Creative Director at Cohere Partners

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