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Articles filed in: Storytelling

20 Ways To Tell A Better Brand Story

Customers don’t buy your results, they buy the story about the difference those results will make. So have amazing ideas, make great things but remember to tell unforgettable true stories.

1. Name and claim a new category.

2. Clearly articulate what you do, without being boring.

3. Give people a great back story that explains why you exist on your about page, bio, profiles and in marketing materials.

4. Back up the story by doing great work.

5. Concentrate on speaking to customers with a particular worldview.

6. Paint a picture of the world as it is.

7. Then show your audience the world as it could be.

8. Uncover the essence of a problem and tell the story about how you solve that.

9. Appeal to all the senses. Stories aren’t just written, spoken or directed.

10. Use a variety of media to convey your message, show and tell.

11. Have a singular purpose and make yourself known for that. This doesn’t mean getting stuck in a box. Missions can work across products and industries.

12. Consider what one person says to another to recommend your ‘thing’. Make it easy to share.

13. Speak to your customer’s heart not just their head.

14. Optimise your website for visitors who you care to return, not just traffic that’s passing through.

15. Tell people how and why you are different.

16. Avoid using jargon. Simple language works, write as you would speak.

17. Don’t smooth away all the rough edges, be human and authentic. Honesty travels further than perfection.

18. Be consistent. Everyone in your company must understand your mission and the story you want to tell.

19. Give your customers the opportunity to tell the story and feel a part of it too.

20. Don’t try to be the ‘next blank’. A flawed original is better than a perfect imitation.

Brand storytelling in action

The Virgin Brand Story ~ We hate being ripped off by big expensive airlines and [insert industry here]. More people must feel like us, there must be a better way. Let’s be the better way.

Apple’s Brand Story ~ Technology can be beautiful as well as functional. Everything single interaction with our product must make people fall in love with it.

Chris Guillebeau’s Brand Story ~ Ever thought there must be more to life than this? Don’t want to work for the man? Me neither! This is how I do it, come join me to see how you can too.

The Epipheo Brand Story ~ We don’t create animated videos. We create epiphanies using great animation.

If you want to see a great brand story in action, check out Epipheo’s story in this video.

Image by rytc.

Connection Vs Attention

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. ~ Steve Jobs

Did you meet yourself coming back today, because you are working so hard to get noticed and trying to be picked? How much energy do you put into building your business and communicating the value of your unique gifts? A lot! You’ve got all the online tools and a hundred and one communication channels at your fingertips but something is missing, that’s why you’re not creating enough traction.

What’s missing in your business, on your about page and your marketing is more of you. If you don’t believe me go cover the header and profile picture on your website, then read your about page. Does this sound like you, or could it be describing any one of a hundred people in your industry?

In your quest to be the ‘best’, the perfect, obvious choice for your clients and customers, you’ve rounded the rough edges of your profile. By trying to give them what you think they want you’ve morphed into iStock girl, you look so professional and flawless that your right audience is having a hard time connecting to you. Your people want to trust you, they want to make virtual eye contact with you and understand the intention behind what you do.

To really connect with your potential clients and customers you have to build trust and that happens when you show more of yourself. When you share more of the ‘real you’ in a strategic way, in your bio, on your about page and in profiles your target market finds you! And it’s such a relief to really connect with your audience by just being you. Connection feels so much more fulfilling than attention and when people truly understand your difference great things happen to your bottom line too.

Want to illuminate the best of who you are and what you do?

Today I’m opening registration to a coaching program that will put ‘you’ back into your profile. I usually only do this work with clients 1 on 1, now though to enable me to show more leaders how to become heroes I’m offering an intimate coaching experience for a small group. I’m looking forward to working with the heroines who have already committed via my email list.

The Hero’s Story program starts on 12th September and runs for three weeks. Registrations close on September 1st.

Image by Torpore.

The Quest For Perfection Makes You Invisible

One of my favourite times when my three boys were little was baking days. You can picture the scene, sticky, half licked spoons, flour and chocolate chips everywhere. Those baking days taught me a lot about the value of imperfection.

When a three year old is making a gingerbread man he doesn’t ever want to just give him two eyes and three buttons down his middle. He wants to add lots of currants and plenty of mismatched decoration. He will tell you that because his gingerbread man is ‘special’, he doesn’t just have three buttons, but wears a coat covered in spots. He also has an extra eye to help him see better. A three year old understands the need to mark his guy out, in order to recognise him through the oven door.

I can still remember moments where my self conscious, perfectionist adult wanted to start rearranging the features of said gingerbread men. To make them neater and perfect. Can you feel your fingers itching to do it too?

Even if you’ve never baked gingerbread with a three year old you understand this. That’s because you do it every day of your life as you craft your personal brand. You do it on your resume, in your bio and in any situation where you feel that your credentials are under scrutiny.

You are hiding the most intriguing and compelling parts of your story

What happens when you are afraid to stand out is that you unconsciously make sure you blend in. You become just like every other gingerbread guy and gal in the bakery, with two eyes and three buttons down the middle and no way in the world to set you or your brand apart.

Your tiny differences, flaws and imperfections are what make you unique. Don’t be afraid to shine a light on them. Begin today by making a list of your quirky gifts and talents. Think about stories from your past, a time when you didn’t fit in, or challenges you may have faced because you are different. Start crafting a real story that people can believe in and care about. Build a window, not a wall.

Image by Rick Waller.

Seth Godin On Being An Entrepreneur, Telling Stories And Making Ideas Matter

It’s not every day you get to speak with one of your heroes. I had the opportunity to do just that when I talked to Seth Godin recently. Seth and his work need no introduction and I hope you get to take something away from the conversation we had about being an entrepreneur, telling stories and making ideas matter.

If what you’re doing matters, then I hope you’ll take the time to tell a story. A story that resonates and a story that can become true.
~ Seth Godin

Image by Life Supercharger.

Increase The Value Of Your Products And Services For Free

I discovered the most beautiful tea last week. A green tea infused with cherry blossom. I experienced it by accident and would have walked past it on the supermarket shelf. The reason I later paid over $10 for a packet of tea has everything to do with my worldview. The tea was a souvenir of my visit to the place where I first experienced it and the scent brought back memories of my first home where two huge pink cherry blossom trees grew in the garden.

It’s clear that this is a quality product, but what’s really disappointing is that there is no story on the packaging. There are too few clues about the history, scent, flavour and the way in which I might experience it. If you’re selling a premium product, or if you want to differentiate what you do, you must get better at telling your customers the story.

The startup AHAlife, which sells carefully selected and curated items grew 600% this past year, by selling people the story behind the product. Founder Shauna Mei recognised that there was a gap in the market, that people needed to understand the passion behind the making and origins of the product in order to recognise its’ true value.

How is this relevant to your business? What if you don’t even sell a physical product?

It doesn’t matter how good your idea is if nobody knows.
~ Sally Hogshead

If you want your idea to succeed then you need to get better at telling people why it should matter to them. If you want people to understand your quality and your difference then you need to tell them about it. If you sell something that isn’t just about utility, (that’s 99% of consumer goods and services on the planet), then you need to give people more reasons to care about them and you.

It is entirely possible to increase the value of your product or service at no extra cost by telling a better story. Here are examples of businesses doing just that with chocolate, candles, website headers, book marketing and design.

You experience this every single day, now it’s time to put it into practice.

Image by Ed Chadwick.

You Don’t Have A Marketing Problem

There’s something you’ve convinced yourself of that just simply isn’t true. Like many people I work with, you are working incredibly hard to produce beautiful, life changing products and services, that are not getting the attention they deserve and you can’t understand why your message isn’t reaching the people it needs to. So you’ve convinced yourself you’ve got a marketing problem. It’s time to get really clear on this.

You don’t have a marketing problem and it’s highly likely that if you’re here reading this post, you don’t have a product problem either. What you do have is a storytelling problem.

If you are marketing a fabulous product, an innovative application or a life changing coaching program that isn’t selling, then your brand story isn’t connecting your audience to the idea.

People don’t know why they should be interested in your stuff.
Your job is to give them the reason, it’s that simple.

Look at Instagram, it’s just a photo sharing app, right? Wrong. Instagram enables anyone (with an iPhone), to make their life and photos look more spectacular than they really are. For free! It allows users to seamlessly create something beautiful, share it in 60 seconds and get instant feedback, love and adoration from their own audience. Instagram founders Kevin and Mike don’t tell the story, they give the users a reason to share it with their friends. The story is baked into the interface.

You do have a compelling story to tell, maybe you’re just not doing it yet. You don’t need to throw the baby out with the bathwater… really you don’t! Sometimes it’s a simple as changing a single word or a line of your copy. It’s that subtle. Perhaps it’s knowing what does one person says to another to recommend your idea? The reason people will fall in love with you is already there you just need to work out how to dust it down a little.

Image by 1Sock.

Forgetting The Facts

We all know that love affairs don’t begin with facts

Ric Bixter was given a college assignment; to take something boring, that you could buy for less than a couple of dollars and repackage it to make it more interesting and valuable. So Ric set out to tell a different story about elastic bands. One that had little to do with the facts.

Your customers will sometimes need to know the facts about what you’re selling. How many sessions? What’s the fuel consumption? Does is come with a guarantee? But that’s not always where your story has to start. Take a look around you at all the marketing messages you see working. The products and services people fall in love with aren’t just about the facts or specs. They are about the story and things people care about.

Your job is to communicate more than the facts

This doesn’t mean telling a story that isn’t true. It means getting people to take a second look and giving them a reason to fall in love with what you do. We all know that love affairs don’t begin with facts. If you want to make people believe your true story, then you need to ask yourself one simple question.

How is this adding to my customer’s worldview?

Take a look at how perfectly Ric told a new story about elastic bands, with colour, typography, nuance and humour.

How could you do this in your business? What story can you tell? How can you make your idea matter to the people who need to hear from you?

And if you’re looking to add a great storyteller to your design team in London next year, give Ric a shout @fellbridge. He’s sure to be snapped up!

Images and package design by Ric Bixter.


“Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?” Marianne Williamson

Heather Spriggs is an artist. She’s a gifted designer and visionary stylist, with a fine arts degree. Heather is a one off, an original.

When I first started working with Heather she had been blogging for two years about modern romance and vintage style, at Gathering Spriggs using the typepad platform. She had built quite a following over that time but wasn’t earning any income from her blog. Heather also ran an Etsy store, selling beautiful hand crafted pieces online for way less than their true value, taking into account the time and talent that had been put into them. As if that wasn’t enough Heather had built a full time home decorating business over a period of eight years. She clearly had no shortage of entrepreneurial spirit and drive!

One of the first things we spoke about was moving Heather’s website to it’s own .com domain, (something she was in the process of working on with her designer). The timing couldn’t have been better. But instead of launching GatheringSpriggs.com as a result of our consultation Heather re-launched her blog at HeatherSpriggs.com. At the time I think this was a big decision for Heather and part of her journey to stepping into her light.

We covered a lot of ground quickly, including what was working for Heather, what was taking up her time and energy and where it might be better directed. We worked out who she really wanted to speak to on her blog and what their worldview was. We discussed her audacious goals, her vision for her brand, plans for her business and where she wanted to be. We had some soul searching conversations along the way.

Once she called herself a decorator, now Heather is an artist, stylist and designer.

Contact and services pages were added to her website. Her craft store closed but her vintage store remained. Rooms by Heather became Interiors by Heather, for that is exactly what they are, beautiful whole world transformations. She offers new services like styling, decor and colour consultation, which she has been doing for years, but not profiting from as she should be.

Heather is increasingly showcasing her own work on her blog, (where she used to mainly showcase the work of those she admired). In July she is releasing her own 100 page magazine ‘Gatherings’, with paying advertisers getting on board. And we’re just getting started, this is only phase one!

Heather just continues to rise to every challenge. She now owns her unique vision and extraordinary ability to see beauty in the world and put it together in ways others could never do. She also values and expresses her vision and talent enough to earn an income from it.

Your attitude defines your brand.

Here’s how Heather and her brand are evolving and why she is embracing ‘living in the shift’, in her own words.

I’d love you to share your own experiences and stories of evolving in the comments.

Image by Heather Spriggs.

The iPhone Doesn’t Matter To Everyone

“Ideas that spread win.” Seth Godin

Seth is one of my heros, he’s probably one of yours too. But I’ve been itching to qualify this quote for some time now. Here’s what I believe.

Ideas that matter spread.

If you want anything you conceive, launch, or care about to ‘win’ then you’ve got to make it matter first. I’m not talking about mattering for a day while your offer is on Groupon, or during your opening week buzz. I mean ‘really’ mattering. The kind of mattering that makes people cross the road (or town), passing your competitors on the way, to buy from you. The sort of mattering that touches people in a place way deeper than their pockets.

This might be the cue to throw your hands in the air and give up, because you wonder how your thing can ever matter that much. But wait… I haven’t gotten to the best bit.

You don’t need to matter to everyone.

In fact you positively don’t want to matter to the whole universe. Quite the opposite. You can succeed by simply mattering more to the few.

Apple has 5% of the global mobile phone market share. They’re doing okay just mattering to the few. Make your market tiny. Create significance for the outnumbered on the sidelines. Investigate the edges. Quit trying to please everyone and woo a handful.

Whisper softly to the people who want to hear from you. Then you’ll matter.

Image by Something from Nancy

Your Best Idea Might Be The One People Laugh At

“The miracle of your mind isn’t that you can see the world as it is but that you can see the world as it isn’t.” Kathryn Schultz

You can probably picture the scene. Over a quiet dinner and a few drinks early in 1984 Richard Branson announces his plans to a few close friends. He explains that he is going to cream some of the profits from his successful Virgin Records business and use it to lease a second hand Boeing 747. His intention is to start a commercial airline and take on mighty British Airways in the process.

Some would have thought it was a joke and actually laughed aloud. Others, their forks suspended in mid air, might have looked him dead in the eye to work out if he really was joking, or if he had finally gone mad.

How many times in his business career do you think that Richard Branson was laughed at? From being the dyslexic teen editor of a magazine to his vision of galactic missions and changing the face of every industry from money to health care; I’m guessing quite a few.

People will probably laugh at you too.

They will laugh at your ideas both big and small. Those devil’s advocates will challenge your vision of the world as it could be. They will tell you it can’t be done. Just like they told Muhammad Yunus that the poor wouldn’t pay back their micro loans. They will urge you to be careful.

People will call on you to realistic and sensible. Just like them. They will urge you to wait for the ‘right time’. And maybe you will.

You might wait to work on the idea that simply can’t fail. Why? Because you don’t want to feel like you are six years old again. Because you can’t bear the thought of putting something imperfect out into the world. Something that might fail.

That would-be failure you’re working on, like Virgin Airlines, will never become something that has a chance to succeed unless you get over the fear of having ideas that people will laugh. And begin having enough faith in them (and you) to put them to work.

Image by David Vo.