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Storytelling has become quite the brand buzzword these days, and for good reason: It’s been proven to be 22 times more memorable than facts, and it releases feel-good chemicals like dopamine and oxytocin in our brain that help us stay engaged, create a deeper connection with others and feel empathy. Not only that, but your brand story also helps you create a deeper connection with your ideal audience, charge higher rates and establish yourself as a leader in your industry.
While many entrepreneurs are jumping on the opportunity to create a brand story for their business so they can grow their audience and maximize their profit, the biggest mistake they make is to look for the perfect three-step formula or strategy that will get them their desired results.
Before understanding what a brand story is, it’s important to get clear on what it is not. Your brand story is not linear. It’s not meant to be linear.
That’s why it feels challenging to find a strategic formula for something that, by nature, is meant to be multi-dimensional. By definition, a brand story is the narrative of the emotions and facts created by your brand. That’s the logical, cognitive, left-brain explanation.
The holistic one? A brand story is how you make people feel through the things that you do and say, consistently.
It’s the energy that your audience picks up on when they’re in your space (physical or virtual). They can’t quite put their finger on why they feel like they know, trust and like you, but they do because of the way in which you carry yourself.
This is why when you’re scrolling on your feed, some people may just feel inauthentic to you. There’s something about their brand story and how they present themselves that isn’t resonating with you. It’s also why you’re inexplicably drawn to some people and can’t get enough of them no matter what they do or say.
Related: How to Build a Brand Story That Buyers Emotionally Connect With
A compelling and magnetic brand story isn’t something you can “think” your way into. It’s something you create by becoming. Here’s how to make it happen.
1. Get very clear on who you are, on a personal and professional level
This applies whether you’re building a personal brand or are representing your company. Just like a person, a brand has a personality. And, to have a personality, you need to know what you stand for, what you value, what your goals are and the bigger “why” that’s driving you … it isn’t always obvious or directly related to your business.
Ask yourself some important questions. How do you help people? Why do you want to help them? What’s the purpose you’ve set out to accomplish through this brand? That’s the foundation of your brand story — the heart and soul of what you do and why.
2. Have a deep understanding of who your ideal audience is
It’s time to start looking at people as people, rather than paychecks or numbers on a screen. Get to know your ideal audience intimately through market research and personal experience. Get to the bottom of the deep insecurities they never talk about, what they truly desire (even when they don’t know it themselves) and the unconscious wounds and fears that they face in their daily lives.
Ultimately, your goal is to use your brand story as a vehicle to help your tribe feel seen, heard and understood. Your story shows them (not just tells them) that you get their pain points and desires and, most importantly, how to help them.
Related: There’s an Art to Telling Your Brand’s Story: 4 Ways to Get It Right
3. Be unapologetic about your mission and stand by your values
The marketplace is oversaturated with jargon, empty promises and messaging that are carbon copies of each other. The only way you’re going to stand out against the masses is to speak your truth, in confidence, and match your words with your actions.
Integrity and authenticity are the ultimate way to speak directly to your audience’s hearts. You might polarize some people this way, but it will be worth the loyalty and love you’ll receive from paying customers.
Don’t be afraid to be bold and cultivate the confidence to share your brand story without over-filtering or over-curating. Your tribe wants to see you, for you. Only when you embody who you are, as a person and a business, and understand who you truly want to reach, can you create the right message that lands with the right people.
And by message, I don’t mean a three-page manifesto that a copywriter wrote for you after a strategy call, but rather the values, beliefs and ideas that you represent over and over in your brand, no matter where or how someone finds you.
Consistency, coherence, integrity and authenticity are what get people to trust you: not tricking them into thinking you were a persona that you carefully crafted online. So the real question to ask is, are you willing to become the brand that you want other people to believe you are?
Related: How to Develop a Brand Story That Attracts Great Talent
There is no shortcut to this. There is only honest, intentional work to create a foundation for your brand that’s unshakable and will last you years to come because it’s a representation of who you are at your core and what you’re creating in this world.
Once you’re clear on who you are, why you’re here, who you want to serve and how you want them to feel after they interact with your brand, you can bring in strategy and craft a brand story that is as heart-led as it is successful.