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Elite SEM

“We were running for nine years without core values,” said Ben Kirshner, Founder and CEO of Elite SEM. “We had this great culture but it was hard to put in words.” To fix that, the company’s leadership set out to identify Elite’s core values and its purpose statement, Great Lives for Great People.

People at Elite were truly living the values and purpose, but as those concepts were so new, the team didn’t know yet how to speak to them. Leadership realized that stories would be the perfect thing to arm the team with when communicating about the core values and purpose.

Elite SEM engaged Stories Inc to create an interactive onboarding tool that would welcome new hires into Elite’s culture —no matter which office they joined—and equip existing folks with stories that embody the values and purpose.

We interviewed 18 people across three of Elite’s offices (New York, Atlanta, and San Francisco). The Story Discovery process included getting several storytellers into a room together to reminisce and feed off each other’s memories.

Since Elite had only recently identified its core values, the storytellers didn’t have experience tying stories to their core values. So we uncovered their stories at random, and tied them to the new core values once we got back to our lab.

The finished product’s an onboarding microsite that all new hires go through to understand the stories that make Elite and its culture what it is. The microsite combines video, illustration, graphic design, and interactive features to tell stories that are organized around Elite’s purpose and its four core values: Attitude of Gratitude, Circle of Education, Love What You Do, and Strive for Greatness.

In addition to onboarding new hires, Elite has been able to repurpose its story content for sales and marketing, as they’ve found that their great culture helps to differentiate them from their competitors in the eyes of their prospective customers. Here’s a video we produced for the project that Elite has embedded on its homepage: