February 9, 2021
Before you dive into writing your brand story it’s important to know what a brand story IS NOT: It’s not the logo or your carefully chosen colors. It’s not that clever tagline or elevator pitch for prospective clients. Your brand story influences those things for sure, but its origins go much deeper.
So, what is my brand story, you ask? It’s the heavy-duty, heart and soul, gut-punching, “I have to do this” big picture for your brand. In a nutshell, it’s that special sumthin’- sumthin’ that makes you unique. A brand story is simply the narrative that you share with the world that forges a connection with would-be buyers. Pair it with your clever tagline, beautiful brand colors, and your company mission and you have a compelling brand story that turns browsers into buyers.
Great storytelling always creates a bond between the teller and the listener. Think about the brands that you feel a deep loyalty to, do you know their story? Their brand motivation? I bet you do! Take my favorite shoes, for example, I love Rothy’s. This San Francisco based shoe company built a brand based on sustainability. Their belief center around putting people and the planet first, so they launched shoes made of recycled water bottles. It’s now grown into a full accessory line with a wide range of colors and purses in the lineup. They also boast 6 different storefronts in major cities across the US. Knowing happy customers are the best marketing resource around, they launched a program that for every customer you refer, you earn $20 dollars towards your next pair of shoes, and they give your referral $20 to spend on their first pair. With a pricier tag than your average shoe, that $20 is a nice incentive to trying your first pair. Which are damn comfortable I might add!
I never would have dropped $145 on a pair of shoes purchased on the internet, it was too risky. But, with that referral incentive and a mission aligned with my own, I took the plunge. I’ll spare you the details of how many pairs I now own, but I will tell you, I have never paid full price thanks to their referral program. Good brand stories tell. Great brand stories sell over and over again.
Your why is a popular buzzword among pretty much any entrepreneur group, but it’s especially relevant in the creative industry. That’s because as artists and makers, making art isn’t enough of a reason to run a business. You need a purpose. Because that purpose will drive you when the frustrations hit. And man will they hit. But with a solid understanding of your why, your motivation to keep going will always win against those 1-2 punches that come at ya as a small biz owner.
Once you have your why pinned down, you can focus your attention on compelling storytelling. I like to journal my thoughts and center them around three core ideas. 1. Who is the audience 2. How do I want them to feel? 3. How can I sell the story, so that the product sells itself?
Your personality is important to your brand’s identity, so let that drive your brand story. Authenticity is the cornerstone of trust, so being yourself is always a good idea. Even if you are quirky and feel like what makes you special is too weird to share, I promise you, there are people who will love it. Something magical happens when you find the clients whose values align with yours and the exchange between you becomes enjoyable for everyone involved.
Your core values are shaped by your life story, but the impact they have on your brand story is even deeper. They are interlinked to the emotional connection you have with your brand. It’s the same connection you want your clients to share when they purchase your products or services. Put your face to your brand. People buy from people. And when they believe those people care about the same things they do? Well, they buy more.
If your brand story is 2 pages long of block form text on your website, chances are only your mom is reading to the end. Thanks Mom! Keep it simple to keep people reading. Share about your beginnings, let us in on those early struggles, and then wow with how you have built the business of your dreams.
Focus your story around the bigger picture – that impact you want to leave on the world. To do this effectively lean into your why, your purpose. It’s tempting to feel driven by financial success (I mean, nothing feels better than paying your bills and having money left over, am I right?) But this isn’t about money. Tell us about the problem that your business solves. For artists and creatives, this might be directed less on a problem that is solved and more on a feeling your work inspires. For example, wedding photography. The problem is, the couple needs photos of their big day. You and everyone else with a camera can solve that problem, so how you make them feel about how you solve is where you connect with them.
Every one of us started our businesses with the hopes of making a profound mark on the world. For me personally, I wanted to use my words to inspire others, and provide a voice to those who were too scared to use their own. No matter what my platform may be, whether it is as a musician, a writer, a speaker or even as a photographer, my purpose is the same. To inspire and to connect others with their voice.
How we tell our story matters as much as what our brand story tells about us. Bring your personality into, share it often, refine it as you receive feedback but never stop telling it. The more you share your story, the more you will own those words. I like to think of the brand story as the tree of life for your brand. It gives you business roots while allowing it to grow and reach new rights. If you plant your tree in authenticity, what grows from it will be strong and fruitful.
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