Let me get right to it: If you want to be seen and heard online, you need an authentic brand story for your business. I’m talking about a unique message that connects your values and your mission (ie, why you do what you do) with your clients’ needs, their fears and deepest desires for their event or travels. If you’ve never taken the time to sit down and truly dig into your values, your mission and how that connects to your ideal clients (and booking more of them), it’s time you did. From what it is (and isn’t!) to what to consider and examples to inspire you, here’s a rundown of exactly what I’m talking about.
What A Brand Story Is NOT
Let me start by explaining what a brand story is NOT. I’m addressing this here because I think that if you’ve been in the creative small business world for more than a couple years, you know what I’m talking about… the blush scripted websites with the super personal yet super unrelated bulleted copy points. (Yeah, you know the type.) So let me take a moment to dispel some of the common misconceptions about brand stories.
Here is what a brand story is not!
- A brand story is not… a list of adjectives you would use to describe your brand (that’s a list of adjectives, not a brand message).
- A brand story is not… a list of your favorite hobbies, foods, activities or sports teams (that may be interesting, but it’s not a brand message).
- A brand story is not… a series of articles that relate to your brand (that’s a blog — and yes, you need a blog for your business!)
- A brand story is not… a series of paragraphs about you and all of the events that led you to becoming a business owner (that’s a biography, but it’s not a brand message).
Okay So What Is a Brand Story?
A brand story is a simple yet powerful, well-crafted message that you use to compel potential clients to work with you. It encompasses the unique way in which you do what you do. It also touches on how your clients feel when they work with you and what other people say about you.
Think of it as the center nucleus of all your marketing efforts. It’s the message the you tell your clients in lots of different ways online, on social media, in person, via email, via video and beyond. Your brand story is like your one-and-only uniform too. It should have voice, it should use words and phrases that you would use. In other words, it should be written in a way that sounds like the real you. Once you’re clear on your brand story, you can then come up with lots of creative ways to illustrate of how that brand story comes to life
Why Do You Need a Brand Story?
Yeah, okay fine but with all of the other marketing jargon out there in the world to worry about (like Instagram Reels and Tik Tok!), why so insistent on the brand story, Anja? Well it all comes down to trust.
Having an authentic brand story is truly the only way you’re going to set yourself up online for the longterm. Sure, you can rely on word of mouth and your network–but the way you appear online and the stories you tell to support that appearance is so important to building trust.
Here are 5 more reasons you need a brand story for your business…
- A brand story makes it more likely that you’ll end up working with your ideal client.
Hands-down this is the most important reason for having a brand story. If you know who you are and you know what type of people you like working with and work well with the best, then your brand story is the marketing message the allows that to happen. In fact, the clearer you are about who you are and who your ideal clients are, the more likely you are to work with them and only them.
- A brand story has the markings of GREAT website copy.
When I work with clients on copy writing, we always always always start with the brand story. That’s because once you have a strong brand story and message, you practically have the first draft of your About Us copy for your website. How can I be so sure? Because I know that your website–and especially that home page–needs to do a lot of talking with very few words and fast (3 seconds or less to be exact). So, get straight on your brand story and you’ll be well on your way to having solid website copy to work from. (PS, it’ll also make blogging about your real weddings easier!)
- Your social media captions will be easier to write with a solid brand story for your business.
I put this high on the list because it’s a pain point I hear about all the time from my friends in the weddings industry. Finding the right words to go along with an image is nearly impossible without first thinking about your brand story and message. Are you going to be funny? Serious? Educational? Deeply personal? Finding your voice on social media is all about knowing and having confidence in your brand story.
- Businesses with strong, authentic brand stories are less likely to be commoditized.
When you tell the story as to why you do what you do and how that approach helps your clients get exactly what they are looking for, you steer the conversation away from price and into a values-driven place. And once you’ve created a message that allows clients to think about their values in relation to yours, you’re far less likely to talk about price (or be comparison shopped by someone who is in reality entirely different than you!).
- Brand stories are PERSONAL and therefore impossible to be replicated or copied.
Even if someone wanted to, they couldn’t copy steal your brand story. Why? Because it’s comprised of stories about you and why you do what you do. If someone else tried to use the same words and phrases, the copy and stories would fall short and likely sound inauthentic.
What Goes Into Writing A Brand Story?
Like I said above, your brand story is all about building trust with your ideal clients. You need to be able to help them understand who you are, why you do what you do, how you approach your craft and then connect all of those things to what they want, need, and desire. In the end, it’s a little bit like word-smithing together creating a venn diagram of yours and your ideal client’s values. Here are the elements of a good brand story:
- Your story (who you are, why you got into the industry and started your business)
- Your values (what you value you most – all the better if you can point to why you value those things!)
- Your approach (you may be a certain way and value certain things but the way in which you approach your craft is also unique and should be addressed)
- Your clients (who they are specifically)
- Your clients’ desires (what they want more than anything in the world for their event or travels)
- Your clients’ deepest fears (what it is that they are trying to avoid by hiring you or working with you)
- Your clients’ values (what they value you most in terms of their event/travel and overall in the world)
Once you’ve taken the time to really think deeply about those elements, then you can begin crafting and pulling together a strong brand story message.
3 Brand Story Examples for the Weddings & Events Industry
As complicated as I may have just made it sound, the end result should actually appear rather effortless. In the end, you want to end up with a short couple sentences and a tag line that seamlessly helps translate all of the above into one cohesive brand story message. Here are three industry friends of mine–all of whom have really authentic brand story messages.
- Ceci New York: Beautify Your World
I didn’t come up with her tag line but I wish I did because it’s perfect for Ceci! If you’ve never met her, she’s this incredibly driven, optimistic, smart, artist and entrepreneur who really does live out her life in a way that is all about elevated beauty. Every product she offers is first and foremost beautiful and high-end. She lives and breathes her world and creates it for others–and her tag line (“beautify your world”) says as much.
See her site: CeciNewYork.com
- Michelle Norwood: Understated Elegance with a New Orleans Personality
My goodness when I first met Michelle, I thought, ‘now that is a person I want to hang out with in New Orleans!’ Michelle has this bubbly, super outgoing personality. She knows food, travel, culture, and traditions from all over the world and infusing them into one beautiful, intimate event is her specialty. Also, if I had to guess, she could walk you around New Orleans blindfolded and still know where she was! Her clients really value her elegant, romantic aesthetic and that’s why the tag line (“understated elegance with a New Orleans personality”) that we wrote together is so perfect for her.
See her site: MichelleNorwood.com
- Molly McCauley: Wedding Photos That You Can Feel
I adore Molly McCauley. She’s this midwest-raised California-based destination wedding photographer with a go-getter attitude and a warm welcoming personality. She knows first-hand how important caught-in-a-moment wedding photos are: Years ago, she and her now husband decided to have a small intimate wedding to focus on family and ensure an amazing experience for their guests–including her ill Father who passed away a few months later. Of course for these reasons and others, Molly cherishes the photos from her own day. And, she treats her clients and their photos with the same care. The tagline that she and I came up with (“wedding photos you can feel”) is personal and it’s absolutely fitting for her clients who also value family and friends in the same way.
See her site: MollyandCo.com
What do you think? Are you inspired to grab a notebook and tighten your brand story and message? If you have any questions about any of this, don’t hesitate to reach out!