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When it comes to cultivating a compelling brand story, many entrepreneurs follow the same sequence of events.
After a certain point of being deep into creating their offer, they realize that no matter how good it is, their audience still needs to know, like and trust their business in order to buy.
This leads them to realize they need to create a brand story that will convey the company’s values, mission and vision in a way that resonates with their audience.
At this point, many entrepreneurs scramble, usually without any strategy, and hire the first copywriter or a brand strategist that looks good enough on paper to get the job done. They fill out a Google Form questionnaire with all their history, pain points and desires. They outsource the important job of brand creation and messaging to the “experts,” slap the final version on the “About” page of their website and call it a day.
This strategy will make you feel accomplished enough to check “create a brand story” off of your ever-growing to-do list. And if you do everything by the books and are lucky enough to post in the right places at the right time, you’ll start getting known for your work and attracting the right people to your business.
But, you’ll inevitably hit a point where that outsourced brand story isn’t enough — after months or years of telling the same story over and over again, its magic will inevitably wear out. People will start to lose interest, and worse, you’ll grow bored repeating yourself. The story that once drew your audience in may even start to push them away. Eventually, you’ll hit a plateau and wonder why you can’t seem to break through to the next level.
I see it happen all the time with my clients, even those who are well-known in their industry or leading multimillion-dollar companies. Out of sheer force of effort, paid ads and good enough products, they build a brand that reaches a desirable height of influence. However, they reach a point where the things they’ve been doing for years stop working and start feeling exhausting.
What we often forget about our brand story is that it’s alive. It’s meant to grow and evolve with you — not be delegated down to a one-time task. If you really want to build that legacy brand that energizes you and makes you feel alive, you need a different approach.
Related: 5 Steps to Craft a Story That Hooks Your Audience Every Time
Your brand story is the backbone of your business
Your story shows who you are, what you stand for and why you serve, all of which inform and influence your brand whether you like it or not.
So if you want to create the kind of story that catapults your business forward, you have to learn to not only tell, but also embody, your brand story.
Embodying your story means that you know it so well that you can effortlessly shapeshift it to support your personal evolution and the new opportunities you create in your business.
Amateur branding takes a rigid left-brain approach that is unfortunately oversimplified to benefit marketers who sell a fixed-step process that’s taught to the masses, but what it doesn’t do is pay enough attention to the nuances that make your brand unique and the inevitable shifts that a growing brand goes through over time.
For example: Perhaps when you started your business, you were a young and ambitious professional focused on the edgiest, cutting-edge trends. But now, your focus has shifted to your family and creating community through your work. Does your brand reflect that shift? Did your brand story evolve with you, or has it fallen out of alignment?
Related: 3 Ways Perfectionism Kills Your Business (and How To Overcome It)
Connecting to your mission (and your audience)
Embodied branding is feeling connected to your mission and help your audience connect to it, too.
It’s not about copying what other thought leaders are doing or following a specific set of steps. It’s about gaining a deeper understanding of your bigger “why,” your vision, your values and what your brand’s true mission on this planet is — that’s when you tap into a wellspring of creative power and possibility that will support your journey to the top.
Most entrepreneurs don’t operate from this level, and it’s usually because they avoid this confronting question: Where in your brand story are you projecting your fears, and where are you actually aligned with your soul’s purpose?
As an entrepreneur, you are the protector of your business. More often than not, it’s your baby. This means there are things about you that you’re bringing into the business that need to be looked at.
Those pieces that feel shame, judgment, guilt and unworthiness might be projected into your business, like in the way you run your team or interact with your clients. The ugly beliefs you have that make you feel like you’re not enough could be causing you to endlessly chase more money or more followers without ever feeling satisfied or proud.
Because when those stories seep their way into your messaging, they create a dissonance that prevents you from looking and feeling like the powerful, entrepreneurial genius you are.
Related: How to Build a Brand Story That Buyers Emotionally Connect With
Facing that question and answering it with brutal honesty is the first step in creating a brand story that empowers you to show up confidently and aligned with your message, no matter what anyone thinks. It’s how you begin to show people what’s possible.
From that space, you can be unapologetic in what you share. You can stand strong in your deeper message that you know you have to share to change the world. You can be so vulnerable that you become invulnerable because you know your weak points and insecurities to the point that they no longer need to hide in your messaging because you can see them for what they are and separate them from your work.
From this place, the real brand story unfolds because now it’s just a matter of finding the words to describe the real you and what you do and who you do it for — instead of following a five-step strategy assigned by a third-party contractor. Now it’s you, being authentically you, and deciding how to share your deeper message with the world in a way that serves and supports your business.
The story you can share will only ever be as powerful as the story you embody within yourself, as an individual and an entrepreneur.
So, will you tell a story that’s as alive as you are, to the people who need to hear it?