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Credentials are great — but they’re only details in your Story

“You have two letters trailing your name and they start with an ‘M, you say? Won’t that look good on an ‘About Us’ page — you’re hired.”

“You’re an Ivy League grad? Sign right here… and have you met our most important client?”

Indeed, the right credentials can get a prospective employee all the way to the dotted line in the hiring game, and no doubt, it means they have the training that can truly benefit an organization. But — to mangle a phrase from a famous football coach — credentials are not everything, and certainly not the only thing when it comes to marketing your organization.

This is not to minimize the pride employees should take in their credentials or an employer should take in its staff, but properly leveraging those qualifications in a marketing sense is more nuanced than slapping a “10 MBAs Work Here!” stamp on a website.

Rather, those lofty credentials are details that inform the organization’s broader Capital S Story — the authentic and unique story that answers why someone should from buy from, work for, invest in or partner with an organization.

Why credentials aren’t enough

For businesses and especially for providers of complex services, such as legal or financial-focused firms, graduates from top-tier universities or those with advanced certifications are hardly uncommon or something that makes an organization distinct from others in its industry.

Walk into a law firm and you’ll see lots of J.D.s, of course, along with attorneys who have Master of Laws degrees (LL.M.) to indicate they have gained expertise in a specialized area of the law. Such professionals are a real boon to a firm and potential clients alike, but is it enough for a client to walk in the door, pick up the phone or send an email seeking assistance? After all, if you’re in even a moderately sized city, there are probably dozens of highly qualified individuals who can point to lofty degrees and successful courtroom track records.

Additionally, consider how a target audience would respond to hearing, “We have three LL.M.s per practice area!” Frankly, the average person probably wouldn’t recognize the acronym, whether they know they should be looking for someone with an advanced degree to help them or not. Some terms are inherently industry-focused and have no bearing on what a client or customer wants.

The story behind the credential

When people are considering a business no matter if they are thinking about patronizing it or even working there, they are taking stories into account. Values, history, vision for the future — it all plays a part in a company’s story. In many cases, however, the most important part of the story is its characters, or the employees who help the business thrive.

So, yes, credentials play a part in building that character, but when sharing a business story, also think about the more relatable details. Why did this Ivy Leaguer get into practicing the law? What experiences shaped them? How do they connect with clients? What types of cases

People are more than their degrees. Anytime your target audience can be reminded of that, you can be certain they’ll remember it.

Do you have more storytelling questions? Check out my book "Finding Your Capital S Story: Why your Story Drives your Brand" or reach out to WordWrite today.

  • Credentials aren’t good enough. Everyone has those.
  • What does a credential say about your organization
  • What’s the story behind it that says why someone should buy from or work with you
  • Stories appeal to emotion, not facts

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