THE IMPORTANCE OF STORYTELLING IN YOUR PERSONAL BRAND
Elite Personal Brand Management
Professionally, the term “storytelling” is usually associated with fiction essay or book writing, and rightfully so. People, companies, nonprofits, and everything in between all have a personal narrative to share about how they got to be where they are and why. Stories help condense big concepts into easily digestible and memorable quips. Whether you are an individual, a small non-profit organization, or a large corporation, you have a brand. Whether you realized it at the time or not, even sharing your origin story at a cafe or happy hour is helping shape the listener’s understanding of who you are, where you’ve been, and where you’re going. The way you tell this story can shape your future, which is why storytelling is key in building your personal brand.
Who Is Storytelling For?
Great storytelling lies behind some of the most successful brands in history. Your initial reaction may be, “Why? Consumers are buying a product, not a story, right?”
While it’s true that putting out high-quality products and services is critical for a successful business or individual career, a compelling story can distinguish your brand from all of the others on the market. When consumers are facing a choice, a number of factors come into play: quality, price point, accessibility, for instance. However, not least of these considerations is the “why.” What is this company’s purpose? What makes them unique from all the others on the shelf? Memorable ad campaigns must now go beyond traditional advertising and pack an emotional punch that stays with the public for decades.
Storytelling Is for Personal Branding Too
Whether you are a recent grad or an experienced executive, you need to shape your narrative to allow you to make the right connections and land the next step in your career.
Consider all the places you may have told your story at one point or another in your career:
Job or college interviews
Panels or conferences
Public presentations and events
The list goes on. Do your career a favor and nail down how you want to present your story. Some people shy away from personal branding because it can come across as phony when done incorrectly, but presenting an authentic story allows you to proudly contribute to conversations and establish yourself within a community of professionals. And yes, you can market yourself without being annoying.
How to Build a Personal Brand
Gary Vaynerchuk is a founding father of personal branding in the digital age. His success is backed by a compelling story. Vaynerchuk immigrated to the United States from the Soviet Union in 1978. He is an entrepreneur who built up a wine empire from his father’s New Jersey liquor store. Vaynerchuk did not stop at creating a successful wine business, but rather continued to grow his career into a seasoned digital media and personal branding genius. His businesses, Vaynerx, which includes Vayner Media, offers world-class communications and marketing services. Vaynerchuk practices what he preaches in his own personal brand. He is not just known for his successful business ventures. His social media use spans the major platforms and is a masterclass in keeping people’s attention. Vaynerchuk’s compelling story, which he shares often and thoughtfully, and clear vision make him the epitome of a successful personal brand.
When a Story Destroys a Personal Brand
Roseanne Barr is the ultimate example of how a narrative can destroy a personal brand. Barr is an Emmy and Golden Globe-winning actress, starring in a hit sitcom on NBC from 1988-1997. Barr quickly went from being a household name to a social pariah. Whatever success Barr built in her career representing middle-class America fell to pieces when she began abusing her social media accounts. Though she has been the subject of several public scandals, much of the failure of her personal brand is attributable to her twitter account. In 2018, Barr began tweeting conspiracy theories about the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting. She went on to refer to President Obama’s advisor Valerie Jarrett, a Black woman, using derisive and racist language. Despite Barr’s past success, her story has veered off course. Barr’s show, Roseanne, was rebooted in 2017, but it was suddenly canceled right before its second season due to her social media tirade.
5 Tips for a Strong Story
1. Style matters.
You don’t need to be Ernest Hemingway to write a compelling brand story, but the way you tell your story is important. If you want to be known as a straight shooter, cut the fluff. On the other hand, if you are building your brand as a yoga instructor, your tone should reflect stability and mindfulness.
2. Remember the end game.
A personal brand can only be successful if there is a goal in mind. Whether you want to make it to the top of your company or simply build your reputation within your current profession, your brand story has to have a desired effect. Do you want to change careers? Find new customers? Grow your business into different sectors? Individuals and Fortune 100 companies alike need to set goals to build an effective brand. Your goals can change, and then means your story will evolve with it.
3. Know who you are targeting and how to reach them.
The medium you use to communicate your brand is as important as the story itself. While corporations may find traditional advertising channels the most effective way to tell their story, small businesses and individuals may find themselves using other methods, like LinkedIn, personal websites, or even word of mouth. The best personal brand story will be ineffective if it’s shouted into a void.
4. Determine what makes you stand out without bending the truth
Memorable stories have unique characters, interesting plots, or an attention-grabbing style. This goes for books, movies, and yes, personal brand stories. Decide what makes you unique. Do you have a non-traditional background? An uncommon character trait? A compelling reason for doing what you do? However, this bears repeating: Do not grossly overstate your qualifications, make up experiences, or otherwise misrepresent yourself in your story. We live in an era of information-sharing, so be careful what you put out there.
5. Your brand and story will evolve, and you need to make sure it goes in the right direction
As is the case with Roseanne Barr, just because you have found success and a strong personal brand does not mean you get to 1) do whatever you want with it or 2) become untouchable. Like anything else, your brand needs to be cared for, nurtured, and evolve as you evolve. Make sure you’re staying on top of it and keep growing it in the right direction.
Bell + Ivy Can Help You Build Your Personal Brand
Bell + Ivy offers a wide range of services, including personal brand bios, brand websites, and brand audits. You can view our full catalog of services here, and check out our blog for more helpful posts. If you are interested in working with us on building your personal brand, contact us online to schedule a consultation.