Want impact? Create Your Brand Story.
When blogging and curating, sharing your relevant and inspiring stories keeps you at the top. Over time, this generates your distinctive brand narrative. Your distinctive brand narrative is your unique voice in the world. It is how you distinguish yourself from others.
Your brand narrative helps mold and shape not only how you conduct your business, but also how you represent your business — its look and feel and presence in the marketplace.
And what most people forget or don’t recognize is that the stories you share help make your audience feel better about themselves for engaging with you. This is what helps build loyalty and raving fans. If done well — that means not only sharing your stories, walking your talk, and making your customers the heroes — you will experience a return on relationship that will continue to feed and grow your business for a long time to come.
For entrepreneurs and micro businesses your brand narrative is generated from your past experiences. They are a collection of the stories you tell yourself and the stories you tell others about yourself.
For larger organizations a brand narrative is generated from a collection of stories about the company’s history and activities in the world.
Both entrepreneurs and larger companies can discover their brand narrative by exploring and articulating their core stories:
- Your founding story. This is the story about how you got started or how a larger business was founded.
- People and results stories. These are stories about your customers and how they’ve been able to succeed because they worked with you. Stories about employees who have overcome obstacles or gone the extra mile to satisfy a customer to get business done. Stories about vendors and your supply chain and the positive difference they have made for your company enhance the lives of your customers.
- The story of the difference you or your company makes in the world. This is your future story. These are stories about how you and your customers together make the world a better place. Think of Nike and their greatness campaign. These ads are all about the power of people to make a difference who also happened to be wearing Nike shoes. The message is that Nike supports these acts of greatness and the people who wear their shoes.
- Your commitment story. This is the story of what keeps you going when the times get tough–whether you are a large company or an entrepreneur. People want to know that they can rely on you and when times get tough. They want to know what continues to inspire you to keep going. This is a very personal story that every senior executive, CEO, and entrepreneur needs to tell.
Both the future story and your commitment story are stories that convey your mission and your vision in the world. Together all of these stories convey who you are, what you’ve done, what makes you special, and why that’s of value to your audience.
So how do you go about this? There are basically two paths. Which one you take will depend on your personality. There is no right way, except to get started. Here are the two choices for getting this done:
- By taking the time to jot down these stories you will see what matters to you most. From there you will see and experience your brand narrative – your purpose, vision, core values, lessons learned, and key messages.
- By sharing stories in your blog posts and then going back and reviewing/identifying the stories you told, determining what kind of core story they are, and then seeing your brand narrative emerge. Your purpose, vision, core values, lessons learned, and key messages are all imbedded in these stories.
By choosing either path you will not only find your voice but also your authentic brand. You will find insights about yourself, your business, your customers and vendors, your products and services. Be willing to be surprised and delighted, and to learn new things about yourself and your company. For sure the essence of your brand will materialize.
In all of your stories – whether personal or organization — you are talking about your:
- prior experiences
- lessons learned
- insights you’ve gained
You get to talk about
- what drives you
- what inspires you to take action
- the people who made a difference
- how you, your products or service, are contributing in some positive way to the lives of others
A personal or business brand based on these stories clearly communicates who you are, your value, your credibility, and is what makes you stand out above all the companies similar to you.
But the important thing to remember is that you are not articulating and sharing one brand story over and over again. Instead you are continually sharing the smaller stories behind your brand that your audience can relate to, place themselves in, and empathize with. As a result they will be able to relate to you and what you do.
As you think about your stories, ask yourself a few of these questions:
- What inspired you or continues to inspire you to do the type of work you do? What drove you become involved in your field? What experience or set of experiences can you share with us about this?
- Who are or were your mentors or the people you looked up to along the way? What did it you learn from them? What stories can you share with us about them, how they helped you, and what you learned?
- What are the most beneficial tools, skills, or resources that you picked up along the way? What stories can you share about those things that will help tell us what’s important to you?
- What challenges have you encountered along the way and even more importantly, how did you work through those challenges? What did you learn and how did you grow from those experiences?
- What experiences of your professional journey do you consider particularly unique and why? What stories can you share with us about those experiences?
- How will your past experiences make you successful in the work you are doing today and contribute to the goals of the organization? What stories can you share with us that express this?
As an entrepreneur or senior executive sharing your personal or corporate brand is all about instilling confidence in prospects and customers that working with you is a good idea. That sense of confidence comes from their knowing you through the stories you share. They understand who you are, your values, and your purpose in the world. Create compelling, interesting, and relevant stories about you and your company and you have all the makings of a dynamic brand.
For more specifics about how to craft compelling business stories and make your customer the hero, check out my new how-to book Business Storytelling for Dummies, co-written with Lori Silverman.
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