Storytelling is captivating for a reason. From childhood through adulthood, we are drawn to the lessons we learn, the exciting journeys we embark upon, the knowledge we gain, and the opportunity to unleash our imaginations.
Stories celebrate our culture, and stories are a testament to the lives we have led. Stories also make messages pass easier. Remember that great teacher (for me, it was my Criminal Law professor) that used to tell stories about what he was teaching? Those stories made you remember better what you learned as compared with that boring teacher that just ‘taught’ and whose name you have probably forgotten.
Storytelling is the oldest form of passing knowledge and much of how we look at what we like to call facts is influenced by stories and how we interpret them. That is why in this article I will cover how you can harness the power of a story to benefit your personal brand.
How To Build Your Personal Brand Story
You don’t need to be a “writer” to build your personal brand with storytelling.
You just need to be authentic, consistent, and honest. To create a great brand story for yourself, you need to start by differentiating this from an elevator pitch. You’re not selling a skill set or influencing a purchase, you’re infusing a story with personality and authenticity to create a genuine connection with your audience.
Your story is not meant to portray you as being some godlike superhero with amazing skills. It shows your human side, with a narrative that encompasses struggles, joy, sadness, success, failure, and growth – all infused with your unique voice and personality.
Just like a fairy tale, a captivating brand story must have three acts that set up the situation, chronicle the conflict and offer a resolution. However, business stories are unique because they require a fourth element – a call to action, which is often indirect.
Here’s a small tip: Simplicity is the key
Don’t add too much complexity to your brand story, otherwise, you’ll dilute your message. Provide only essential information to guide your reader through your narrative. Illustrate what your voice is, what you stand for, and why it matters to the lives of the audience that has its own stories.
Tapping The Most Effective Medium
Any medium can be used to tell a story, including blogs, film, print, social channels, and multimedia. Each medium elicits a different reaction from your audience, so stories must be tailored to fit. The key to success is knowing which story to tell in which medium. Short, snappy messages work best on television and the Internet, while online conversations, conferences, and seminars provide a personal connection.
In order to be a good storyteller, you must listen to your audience so you can genuinely understand their desires and concerns, their beliefs and attitudes. You must continue to listen as your story unfolds so you can gauge the reactions of your audience. Let this help determine how your brand evolves. As your objectives and goals shift, you must plan new initiatives that propel the story forward and inspire renewed calls of action.
Emotion, authenticity, personal connections, and driving to action. That’s what storytelling is all about.
Quick Checklist For Building Your Personal Brand With Storytelling
Building a brand is tough, building a personal brand doesn’t have to be. Here’s a good starting checklist to ask yourself and map out what you want your personal brand to say – then we add the storytelling component:
First, who are you?
- What are your core values and beliefs?
- And, what is your vision?
Then, what do you want to be known for?
- What are your passions?
- And, what does your greatest achievement look like?
And last but not least: Who do you want to appeal to?
Building your personal brand has to be about what you want and not what you think others want from you, as the latter can pigeonhole you into something you really aren’t. Focus on what truly resonates with you.
Be Memorable Without All The Gimmicks
Metaphors are great but don’t simply offer them up for the sake of symbolism. Comparisons are delightful when they are relevant and plausible, but they should always improve the message, not distract from it.
There’s a reason Steve Jobs’ Stanford commencement speech is still referenced more than a decade after its deliverance. He understood that an authentic personal brand stems from what makes someone unique, using the metaphor of a person’s inner voice to represent that.
He encouraged students to pursue whatever it is that makes them stand out and build their success upon it. Brand building works similarly. Using a unique story or connection to evoke a positive feeling in your audience can keep your brand top of mind.
Needless to say, storytelling per se is no guarantee of success unless it is supported by facts and figures and every effort must be made to construct a radically honest and credible narrative without in any way renouncing our hopes and dreams for the future.
Read more: 5 Ways To Develop Your Personal Brand By Giving Value
Use Your Story to Connect with Your Customers
Humans are emotional and strive for connection. We don’t just want relatable content and a relatable brand. We also want to connect with the face and personality behind a brand.
At its essence, a story isn’t really about you. The goal of the story is to create a connection with your customers. Just as we sometimes revisit restaurants for the service more so than the food, consumers buy your story before they buy your products. If customers leave with a good experience, they’ll share it with their friends. They’re also more likely to share the positive experience on social media – all because they support you and your story.
Few things can communicate that level of engagement like storytelling can.
Read more: How To Deal With Internet Trolls For Your Personal Brand
Be The One Who Knocks
To convince you of the importance of good storytelling and what it can do for your personal brand, I submit this. It is one of my favorite lines of any character in any TV series. It’s when Walter White from Breaking Bad (who by this stage is very much drug warlord Heisenberg) declares to his rivals in the middle of the desert “Say My Name. Say it. Say My Name”. Heisenberg is the trembling answer. King of all he shouts!
It speaks about the power of his personal brand (the name Heisenberg) that has overwhelmed anything else he was before. But not only that! It also speaks about the magic of good storytelling. And, what it can do to your personal brand regardless of your niche. It is a brilliant moment that encapsulates the journey that Walter has taken from nerd and part-time drug creator to mega drug dealer and full-on feared gangster.
What makes you unique? Anyone who knows you probably will have a different answer. Your mom might say it’s because you have the cutest smile. Or, she might mention that you have the weirdest dreams since she was doomed to hear you talk about them for years. Your friends might say it’s because you talk in movie quotes, while your colleagues might say it’s because you talk fast or you can write an abnormal number of words in one day.
But what if you could actually guide how potential connections, employers, or clients see your unique value? What’s that special added value you can bring to the table? You may already know it or it may still be unclear, but coming up with a personal brand story can either clear any doubt or refine an existing idea. And storytelling is your key to uncovering your brand.