Driving market leadership with innovation stories

Industry type: Technology


Product-led growth is a huge trend these days. Yet products themselves shouldn’t steal the show; instead, spotlight the people who make and use them. Read how Duarte helped Microsoft put its innovations in the best light.


Shift the narrative focus from the revolutionary technologies being developed to emphasizing the human aspect in storytelling, recognizing that technology should play a supporting role rather than taking center stage.


Develop a narrative-driven presentation for Microsoft, aligning with Nadella's vision, ensuring the story focused on people rather than technology, leveraging the Duarte Method™ centered around empathy.


A revitalized, customer-centric presentation that sparked an internal communication movement and adoption of the Duarte Method™ to elevate all presentations.


  • Brand and product storytelling
  • Product presentation

The background

From Windows and Internet Explorer to Azure and Surface, Microsoft has a long history of making ground-breaking products that transform entire categories. Yet, before Satya Nadella took over as CEO, the company was seen more as a lumbering behemoth relying on its legacy than an agile visionary that’s shaping the future. To reinvigorate its image, the company wanted to spotlight the imagination of its people and products through storytelling, the Duarte way.


The challenge

Despite popular misconception, innovation was happening all the time at Microsoft. Developers energized by Nadella’s daring leadership style were iterating and testing new technologies with renewed fervor. But no matter how revolutionary a technology is, it shouldn’t become the star of your story. Because stories are about people; technology is at best a co-star.


The solution

Our client, Ben Tamblyn, tasked Duarte with crafting a narrative-driven presentation Microsoft could use to showcase its innovations at conferences and customer events as well as in conversations with influencers and even potential hires. In keeping with Nadella’s mission to “empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more,” the heart of the story had to be people, not technology. Fortunately, the Duarte Method™ puts empathy at the center of every story.

  • Our process

    Duarte analyzed Microsoft’s key audiences to build profiles of three personas for the presentation and key messages that would appeal to each of them. Common themes bubbled up that we formed into a Big Idea™ to encapsulate Microsoft’s innovation approach. To express it powerfully, we explored potential story angles and accompanying visual styles before crafting the full narrative and accompanying slides.

  • Our insights

    Throughout our discovery process, we uncovered nearly 30 impressive anecdotes that Microsoft’s “innovation story” began to look less like a single tale and more like nested narratives. Since Microsoft is constantly innovating, we needed to design a flexible structure that would let the client’s team add new stories as they emerged while still maintaining a cohesive overarching message.

  • Our approach

    The result was a modular presentation with four different narrative paths built into it that showcased the ingenuity of Microsoft and its impact across a range of industries. Each path told the story of a particular innovation through the lens of its users for a potent blend of features and feelings. Combining on-slide animations with the use of PowerPoint’s morph transition created buttery-smooth motion for a movie-like feel with the easy editability of slides.

The outcome

In the end, Microsoft got a fresh and inspiring take on their customer-centric innovation culture that sparked a bit of a communication movement internally. After peeking inside our visual storytelling lab, Microsoft’s communication team was inspired to elevate all their presentations using the Duarte Method.™ Through storytelling training, slide making, and more, we continue to partner to co-create communications that prove the transformative potential of Microsoft’s technology, one slide at a time.