How do you find and communicate your brand story? There are a few essential steps to having a complete and compelling brand story that I outline in the video and text below.
I want to talk to you about brand storytelling. Brand storytelling in particular for conscious entrepreneurs, artists, creatives, cultural creatives, people who have their own businesses or are working as solo entrepreneurs. At this point, where we’re at in terms of business culture is that we are expected to market ourselves as creatives. The old paradigms have shifted. There is now much more of a marriage between our creative work and our work in terms of informing people, organizations, and clients of who we are. This is how we make a living now. So brand story is key and essential to any entrepreneur, any creative, any artist – outside of, perhaps, the big Los Angeles, New York systems, plugins, mainstream publishing or having your work in museums. So, in terms of brand story, first of all, what is it? We hear a lot about brand story these days and there are certain elements that are essential to anyone’s brand story.
The first component of brand story – is a story about you. It’s a story that is going to connect the heart of who you are speaking to, to your heart, mind, and embodied being and message. The first aspect you are looking for is a personal story. So, what kind of personal story?
As a storyteller, (which you are in this context whether or not you are literally in writing or theater) you’re looking for what I call “stage-worthy material.” I call it that because my background is in theatre, acting, and directing. Stage-worthy material is essential to a great brand story. Just like any movie, any book – from the opening page you are grabbed into the story that the person is telling you. It’s exciting, it’s life-changing, there’s movement in it, humor in it, drama in it.
Look for a story about a person, place or time in your life – a moment that changed your life forever.
I have a couple of stories that I use personally in my brand storytelling – about how I became a solo performer and later, a story coach.
The first takes place in a theatre. I set the stage, I’m in a theatre, 20 years old, in college studying conventional acting and it’s the night I meet my mentor, the late Spalding Gray. It’s the story of how I went from traditional acting to wanting to drop the artifice and connect heart to heart because of the inspiration of Spalding, the man who would go on to be my mentor.
Another story I tell is of being a single mom, 35 years old in Santa Fe with a background in acting and making almost no money. I became a single mom suddenly and didn’t know how I was going to take care of my daughter. I prayed to a God I didn’t believe in for a dream…and that night, I had a dream where I saw the words “The Cancer Monologues” floating over Lincoln Center in New York City. The Cancer Monologues ended up becoming a series of shows I did with people with cancer. It didn’t go to Lincoln Center, but it did go to off-Broadway and it became a book that was featured in Oprah’s magazine, etc. etc. So the first things I tell are stories like that. You’re looking for moments in your life that were truly transformational, where you had to overcame an obstacle and you did it.
Next, you marry that to your VISION. What is your vision? Why is your service or your product important? How is your personal story connected to your vision of how to solve people’s problems, make the world a better place, open people to their creativity, help people create wealth – whatever it is, it’s important to find a bridge between your personal story and your vision. That vision connects sometimes, (depending on what kind of client or organization you’re pitching to, whether through a talk, website copy, a video like this, etc.) – to a mission statement. This could apply particularly apply to non-profit work or an artist statement about your work. There is a difference between the vision and the mission. The vision is big picture and how you’re solving a problem, throwing a stone to the future and how things could manifest. The mission has to do with the underlying drive that is within you that is in service to others.
Then, there is the space to talk openly and directly about your product or service. Talk about why it’s compelling, why it will work for the people who are listening to you, why they should be interested in it. You’ve set that up by letting them connect with you as a human being. You’re letting them know who you are as a human. And not everybody will like you. Not everyone will be attracted to your message – and that’s perfect. You don’t want everybody. You want people who really resonate with you as a human, who resonate with your vision, or mission and with what you’re actually selling, whether that’s a product, or a service, or an idea. Many creatives are actually selling an idea because they need people to come in behind them to financially back them, generate interest in that idea, gather a team, etc.
So these are the elements in a great brand story and I want to bring in one more thing. After you’ve given all of the elements, including the service and product aspect, you want to bring it full circle back to personal story. Hopefully you’ve planted some seeds in that initial story that you can then bring back to end it with a payoff for the audience that relates to that original personal story. It’s a synthesis, a synergy, a bringing it all together. You can do it with humor, with wisdom, you can share something you’ve learned from going through the whole process. If the seeds are planted in the beginning, look for a dramatic payoff in the end. Remember, more than anything – People won’t remember everything you’ve said in your talk, but they are going to remember how you made them feel. So sharing in an embodied way, not a stiff, stilted, overly controlled, contrived way – that offers all these elements, but is coming from YOU, authentically, is going to be their biggest takeaway.
I hope this helped you in grasping the basics of brand story.
Tanya Taylor Rubinstein