How Storytelling and Branding Work Together
I have been thinking quite a lot about branding lately. About personal brands and the stories we tell about ourselves to the people around us.
It started a few months ago when I followed someone new on instagram and I just LOVED their brand. That included their aesthetic, their message, and the way they shared their message in their captions, stories, and photos. I was thinking, “How beautiful and concise, I love the story that they are sharing with the world.” And I started to reflect on my personal brand, and I realized I didn’t have a clear idea on the story I was telling the world.
If you are unfamiliar with the topic, let me give you some background information… a brand is a feature (like a name or a logo) that distinguishes one company/business/product from another. And the way that storytelling is connected to this name or logo is the whole reason that we might choose Adidas over Nike, namely, a brand tells consumers a story about what their company values.
A personal brand is the same as a company brand but instead of the logo, the brand is you, and the story you share with the world. A great example is Ellen Degeneres. Her personal brand is all about acceptance and kindness. She shares her story through her TV talk show where she spreads her personal brand around the world.
Storytelling is at the core of branding, especially personal branding. A brand is essentially a story you are telling the world about you. You might express it with photos, fonts, colours, a specific style, certain keywords that resonate with your story, among other things. This is why every website, blog, and business card looks a bit unique.
So here is my struggle with personal branding. We all have so many things that make up our awesome selves that we might not know what to focus on. We know our pasts and every little like and dislike, and with so much information about ourselves and our complex stories that we COULD share, I think we can get a bit confused about what our personal brand really is, and we SHOULD share to express that story.
We are all complex people, we all have so many facets of ourselves, and those are important! I wrote a blog post all about how looking inward and learning more about ourselves than what is on the surface is really important for our own growth. But we can’t share every part of ourselves with those around us all the time. That would be a lot of information! Instead, we need to learn to authentically and carefully simplify the story we share about ourselves.
A few ideas on how to figure out your personal brand…
Ask someone who knows you. It is really hard to see yourself as you show up in the world. Asking someone who knows you and can hold up a mirror and give you a new perspective on yourself. For example, I am known by my friends to be the responsible, organized, and goal-oriented friend. Not the foodie friend or the musical friend or the fitness friend, even though I enjoy all those things as well. This is why asking those around you how you show up in the world can help give you a new angle on your personal brand. (This doesn’t mean you should just go with the niche that others see you in, but it does help give an outside perspective!)
Write it down. When I wanted to start my blog, I wrote down all the things I love and have learned quite a lot about over the years. On that list I saw personal finance, organization, personal reflection, health, and photography. It is no accident that those are the main topics I cover in my blog! And as I was thinking more about what I was seeking with all of these topics, I realized that I was trying to create a beautiful life. And I wanted to share my efforts in the hopes that the thoughts I had and the tools I used could help others do the same.
Accept that just because you simplify your story does not mean that you are simplifying yourself. I love to travel. But at this point in my life, it is not the main focus of my personal brand. I see other people with travel blogs and amazing careers where travel is their focus and I admire that so much! But just because that is not the story I am telling at this point in my life does not mean it is not a part of my life at all. We should celebrate all the things we love that make us who we are. But we can’t use every single thing about us to tell our story and create our brand.
Think about your goal. Maybe you want to create a new dating app. Well the story you would tell about yourself on your website and during your investment-pitches would be very different than the story about yourself that you would share if you wanted to start a local foodie instagram account or if you wanted to go live off the grid in Cuba and write a book.
Remember that a personal brand changes through your life. You are not committing to one story for the next 50 years. But thinking about the story you are sharing at this point in time can help you focus your message, connect with the right people, and move you forward in the right direction.
I will continue to refine my personal brand as a happy, organized creative living on the west coast and sharing my thoughts on living a beautiful life, and I encourage you to look at the story you are telling about yourself and how to better share that with the world.