If you want to measure how America feels about large commercial and investment banks in the wake of the Great Recession, simply open your browser, enter the search term “wall street bankers” into Google, then click on Images. The resulting pages of derogatory cartoons, photographs and headlines provide a vivid portrayal of just how much anger and ridicule is being directed at men and women who make their living at the world’s leading financial institutions. It gets very personal.

With these cartoons in mind it’s not too hard to imagine the negative effects for the financial services industry: deteriorating employee morale, the diminishing pride of the retiree community, or the weakening confidence of investors and customers. It’s also not too hard to imagine why the time-worn stories of stability, trust, service, and innovation that financial institutions previously used to describe themselves before the global financial meltdown aren’t resonating in what has become a hostile environment.

A considerable number of The History Factory’s engagements over the past eighteen months have been with financial institutions as they recast their stories to fit the new realities of the marketplace. Recognizing that rebuilding trust among a wide range of stakeholders is paramount for their success, our clients have found that heritage is a powerful resource for understanding how they’ve met similar challenges in the past, authenticating current messaging, and contextualizing their vision for the future. They’ve also found that stories—delivered via intranets, exhibits, speeches, blogs and other forms of social media—are the most effective way to ensure that credible and memorable messages get to their target audiences.

StoryArc™—The History Factory’s story-discovery and story-design methodology—is based on the most successful narrative algorithms in history. We begin with a clear understanding of the objectives that the stories are meant to serve and the intended audience. Our story-generation process then distills the client’s inventory of experience into an optimized theme and customized narrative. The result: dramatically amplified messaging power targeting specific audiences. Our financial services clients are finding that the precision of the StoryArc™ process is delivering predictable outcomes at a time when they can ill-afford any communications missteps in an already-skeptical environment.