Do you know your brand story? Have you written yours?
Brand is one of those terms that gets thrown around all over the place. We use it often without being 100% sure that we know what it means. Add another really broad term like story and you have Brand Story. Something you could probably talk about in a conversation or nod along with, but when pressed, you might not fully get this concept.
In this post (and podcast episode) I want to help you understand what a brand story is, why it's important, and how to craft your own brand story. The coolest part? I made a freebie just for you! Click to get a free mini-course that will walk you through crafting your brand story in a few minutes a day.
I would define your brand as your full identity. Not as a person, but your identity as a writer, blogger, or business. It encompasses everything from your visuals (which is what many people think of as a brand) to your ideals and beliefs.
Your brand has a vibe. It should have a clear sense of purpose, which is where the brand story really comes in. Your brand becomes recognizable not only visually, but in terms of the kinds of content you create and share and how you interact with people in your space.
Your brand story is the way that you would describe all of those moving parts that make up your brand, but in a HUMAN and relatable way. You see, story is engrained in our DNA. It is an innate part of us. Sometimes after childhood, we don't validate story. It becomes less important than some of the more tangible or measurable things: income, ROI, financial security, investments, and all those fancy adult terms.
And yet, we know and we see how story actually impacts us. This is why advertisers utilize story in Superbowl commercials.
When you write your brand story, you'll be talking as much about your audience as you will yourself. Because this is not simply a story for you, to bring the focus to you, but this is a story that is meant to draw in the ideal audience. You talk about your history, your values, your struggles, and your transformation, but you'll also be really speaking to THEIR values, struggle, and the transformation they want to see.
You'll want to write out the whole thing, then edit it down, and become familiar with it. You should already know it, because it's your story, but just like everything online, there is editing. Every value you hold dear may not come through your brand. You edit. You choose. You define your brand.
I've never seen a Brand Story tab on the navigation bar on a website. Rather, it's a framework that goes underneath everything else. It's like your why: it brings focus, clarity, and cohesion to your brand. Even if you never share the actual story you write word for word. Even if the whole thing doesn't go on your website.
Pieces of it may appear in your About page, or on your Work with Me page. When you talk to people about what it is that you do, this brand story will come out. At least, that's the point. You want to work on this and craft and write this like a mission statement and KNOW it, so that when someone asks, you will retell your brand story in your own words. Because it is YOURS.
Want to craft your brand story? CLICK HERE to sign up for the free email mini-course!
I interviewed Maria Ribas of Stonesong and we got very nerdy (and practical!) about what writers and bloggers really need to know about platform. You can find helpful (and some delicious!) posts from Maria at Cooks & Books. She has great posts for authors (and readers) as well as recipes. She and I share a mutual love for talking about building a writer platform and utilizing the online tools we have to connect with readers.
Some of my favorite posts from Cooks & Books:
How to Connect with Your Audience (with free workbook)
Healthy Pantry Pasta Salad (Aren't her pictures GORGEOUS?)
Publishers are really looking for some quantification that the writer will be able to move a lot of books down the road. If you don't already have an email list, start that right away. You want to be able to directly contact your people to tell them about the book.
Authors often feel like marketing and platform building are icky self-promotion. Reframe the discussion and start making those connections NOW, before you also have a book to promote. Think of platform as a way to share and to help people. It's how you can offer people something they want or need.
The best piece of advice she would give is to get out there and talk to people and overcome the hesitancy to make connections and share your work with others. You want to start this as soon as possible, not when you are about to have a book come out. Work through the fears of "marketing" and reaching out to other people about your book. It takes time to get comfortable with this idea of getting out in front of people.
You don't need to have an audience in order to get a fiction book deal, but you need to be building your platform if you want long-term success. Plenty of people get a fiction book deal with no social media accounts, while on the non-fiction side, it's very competitive in that area and you need to have a strong platform there. It doesn't have to only be online, but that is a crucial place. A lot of authors also do speaking engagements or teach classes and have an in-person connection.
If you aren't in my Create If Writing community, join us to share inspiration, ask questions, and talk to other writers and bloggers about building an authentic platform!
After listening to the interview (and thinking about my interview with Joanna Penn on Indie Publishing), are you more interested in traditional or indie publishing? Leave a comment below! I'd love to hear YOUR perspective!