By Emily Soccorsy + Jennifer Lawhead

3 Ways To Uniquely Tell The Story of Your Brand

Often people ask us, “how do I build my brand?”

It’s pretty obvious they expect our answer to be something tactical, like “buy Facebook ads” or “get a cool logo designed.”

Alas, no.

The most fundamental action you can take to build your brand is to begin to tell the story of your calling.

If people don’t walk away befuddled at that point, they’ll ask: “What do you mean by ‘my story?’”

First off, your story is actually probably about a thousand stories, little moments, snippets or coffee clutching discussions you have already had — with yourself, with your spouse, with your biggest client, with supporters of your career or calling.

They are the things you tell people when you want to connect with them — for whatever purpose. Simply put, you’re giving them an opportunity to believe what you believe.

Your story is your chance to move people, to share your heart and inspire. It’s not about what product or service you’re selling; rather it’s the narrative of how you’ve come to do what you love.

Still confused? It’s all good. Here are three stories you can tell today that will help you build your brand for a lifetime (think beyond the obvious of how you started your brand):

1. Disappointment drama: Jen recently told a client who was considering writing a book the story of a former client, who enthusiastically talked for years about writing a book. Sadly, a sudden diagnosis with cancer ended that wish — and her former client’s life — for good. After hearing Jen’s story, the client began writing his book. So, here’s a prompt for you: what disappointments or missed opportunities have you had that led you to pursue your calling?

2. First indy client: Emily’s first independent client was a restaurant owner, who hired her for marketing and branding help — half of the retainer in cash and the other half in food trade. Times were tough, but the $500 in trade helped Emily treat her family to dinner many times a month. Later they discovered several serendipitous family connections, and Emily knew the relationship was meant to be. The years-long relationship led her to discovering her true calling, and Root + River was born shortly after. For you: who was your first client or the first “big deal” you landed? Who was the human who invested in you? (You might not have been doing the work you are doing now, and that’s OK.) How does the work you did for that person connect to the work you are doing now? What’s changed for you or in the industry?

3. Passion play: Jen’s earliest passion was writing. She cannot remember a time she wasn’t writing — screenplays or stories — and making her sisters act them out, too. She even wrote a cookbook in fourth grade called “The Kids Can Cook Book!” Emily’s earliest passion was also writing, storytelling and drawing. Emily’s first published work was at the tender age of 9 years old in the Bear Essential News, a kids’ publication in the Phoenix area. As a child, she created her own line of more than 50 2-inch paperdolls complete with riveting backstories and complex relationships. Both of Emily and Jennifer’s childhood passions continue to serve them today in business and are an important part of their personal brands. Your story to tell: What passion have you had since childhood that now serves your business? When is that passion most apparent in your work?

Every great brand is a master at meaningful conversations.

They see every new conversation, every new touch point, as an opportunity to share their story and talk about their brand.

When your story is shared, you begin to form a deep bond with the people who make up your audience and two things are created. First, an openness to collaboration (read: business opportunities) begins. Second, a lasting impression that differentiates you is formed. You’re no longer “just another” in your industry.

And that’s something worth talking about.

P.S. Want more help telling the story of your brand? Join our 8-week Becoming a Brand course — launching Feb. 15.

Emily Soccorsy + Justin Foster are cofounders of the intrinsic branding practice known as Root + River. Together with their defiantly different clients, they uncover then articulate the foundational elements of the brand. Then, they provide brand strategy and brand coaching as the brand is rolled out internally and externally. Obsessive about language and differentiation, Emily + Justin are also authors and speakers. Follow @rootandriver @fosterthinking and @emilyatlarge

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